Two years ago, the world was swept by a huge tide. A tide that for some has pushed hard to liberate women’s voices and for some others it was a tide that sent some powerful men crumbling on the dark shore of the History.
Women started speaking out against powerful men. One of the first stories and if not the most important one, without diminishing all the other cases, was the Harvey Weinstein case.
He was a prominent Hollywood movie producer. Nobody dared to bring him down and yet one actress after another came publicly to tell their horrible encounters with the man, which predatory and dominant behaviour brought him to his door young attractive women where he abused of them.
Among all the cacophony of voices divided between people supporting the victims and other rather skeptical claiming that there are other motives behind these women’s claims (like monetary gains or publicity), another troubling case emerged and this time it concerned not a showbiz star, not an actor, not a politician but a Muslim scholar, Tariq Ramadan.
I remembered how shocked I was hearing the allegations made by some women, all of them Muslims, against him. These allegations were about rape, sexual violence, manipulation, sharing pornography content…
I read many of Tariq Ramadan books and listened to some of his lectures. I always found him articulate, smart and knowledgeable.
His insistence on the importance of Muslims’s need of contribution in the West feeling as full citizens like any other citizens from other faiths, made a lot of sense to me.
I have to admit that I found these allegations in total contradiction with what the personae of Tariq Ramadan projected in his public appearances.
Even though, I didn’t believed at all the conspiracy theories being circulated by some groups, mainly his supporters, that these women allegations were motivated and funded by the perpetual enemies of Mr. Ramadan: the French secularists and some intellectual staunch zionists, I felt somehow torn apart. Believe the women or Tariq Ramadan?
With the high islamophobia climate of French media and the surrounding political arena and with his subsequent arrest in France, I decided to stick to one simple truth: the due process.
So this is why, I wrote on this platform, a blogpost, trying to emphasize on the importance of due process and drawing similarities with another French case: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, which despite the gravity of the accusations against him received the right to due process.
But everything changed when Tariq Ramadan admitted that he had extra-conjugal affairs, first with the escort girl who accused him of rape and later with all his accusers.
The minute I read his own admission in the newspapers, after lengthy months of denying and lying, my opinion was made: this guy is a charlatan. He deceived his family, he deceived his friends, he deceived his supporters. He can’t deceive me anymore.
We are not talking about any man. Indeed, everyone of us, can make mistakes, tumble, fall down and still continue his/her path. But we are talking about a man who build his entire career ( yes it is in fact a career with money, fame, books…) on Islamic ethics and Muslim scholarship. His entire business is about Islam and how to be a good Muslim. So when he comes out publicly and speaks about forgiveness or about mistakes, it is like if he lost the core of his message and still pretend that he deserves a second chance.
As a community, the most urgent and crucial problem we have today is: accountability. We don’t understand what it is. Many Muslims mix accountability with forgiveness and kindness which is totally misleading and wrong.
In order to be a math professor, you need to know your mathematical proofs and theorems. In order to be an engineer, you need to know your mathematical models, measurements, materials density…If you don’t, then you fail and eventually you are fired. In order to be a Muslim scholar, you don’t need to be an angel but you need a minimum of decency. Obviously, Tariq Ramadan failed as a human being, which can happen, but he still wants to continue his career by preaching forgiveness and pushing for other unrelated platitudes.
This problem of using “forgiveness” when it suits us and forget about it when it doesn’t is really dangerous. This is called: hypocrisy. This is putting our own selfish interests and career plans on top of justice.
The message of forgiveness won’t have any meaning without applying justice, in its full meaning. In many Muslim countries ruled by a dictature, when the dictator dies, all of a sudden, people would start speaking about being a good Muslim and forgive him. When Saddam Hussein, after killing million of his own people, was about to be killed, he showed some signs of religiosity. Some Muslims around the world believed him. Some would say, “oh he repented, we should be forgiven”. I wonder if they would say the same thing if their own kid was killed or even imprisoned by him.
Where is the justice? Where is the accountability? Justice and accountability don’t mean we are unkind or revengeful. Justice and accountability are the first step toward a better world with less mistakes and less oppression.
For all these Muslim men who oppressed women, sexually abused them, raped them and then deny it or came later to speak about forgiveness, they are following on the footsteps of the political dictators in the Muslim countries. Forgiveness come after accountability, after the rights are given back to their owners, after justice has taking its course. Then only then, the victims can decide: forgive or not.
Something that stroke me about the story of Harvey Weinstein is
that his attorney recently declared “No matter happens at trial, [he] will pay the biggest price there is, because his life is ruined.”
For me, that means accountability. He might be declared “innocent” but at the end, he will pay for his horrible actions. Would Harvey Weinstein’s case serve as a lesson for Ramadan, who is still preaching for his fans and trying to rebuild a virginity that, by his own admission, was lost many years ago.