Protesters demand scholar Tariq Ramadan's release ahead of trial, as academic's health worsens

Protesters demand scholar Tariq Ramadan's release ahead of trial, as academic's health worsens
Protesters have gathered outside French embassies and consulates around the world to express solidarity with detained Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan.
2 min read
17 July, 2018
Tariq Ramadan's health has reportedly deteriorated dramatically in detention [Getty]

Protests took place around the world on Tuesday to demand the release of Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss Muslim academic who was detained in France after being accused of rape.

Solidarity rallies as part of the Free Tariq Ramadan Campaign's "International Day of Action" took place in 20 countries, including Turkey, Malaysia, Benin, Switzerland, France, Iran, the US and UK.

Ramadan, 55, has been held in pre-trial detention since February, after he voluntarily handed himself over to French authorities for questioning.

"After four months of pre-detention, Tariq Ramadan's last appeal for bail has again been denied," Yasin Kayaci, the head of Istanbul-based International Association for Justice and Human Rights (YAIDER), told a crowd gathered in front of the French consulate in Istanbul.

"It is not for us to judge Tariq Ramadan's guilt or innocence. We fully recognise the rights of the plaintiffs to have their case heard without prejudice and without injury to their honour," he added.

According to the Ramadan's family and lawyers, the Islamic Studies professor was held in solitary confinement for the first 45 days of his detention.

This reportedly had a detrimental effect of the academic's health, as he suffers from Multiple sclerosis (MS).

In an interview last week, Ramadan's eldest daughter Maryam, 31, said her father is now unable to walk without assistive apparatus.

Appeals for Ramadan's release on health grounds have been repeatedly rejected by French authorities, causing many to perceive as harsh treatment of the prominent Muslim academic.

His supporters have accused French authorities of Islamophobia, as he remains the only prominent public figure arrested in France over rape allegations related to the #MeToo campaign.

France's Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin and Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot were both subjects of rape and sexual asault investigations, however, they were not detained.

Defence lawyers for the professor have also pointed to inconsistencies in statements given by Ramadan's accusers, including a change of time and location by one of the alleged attacks.

Ramadan's next hearings are set for July 18 and 19.