Activists appeal to French envoy in KL as jailed Muslim scholar’s health deteriorates

Tariq Ramadan is now in a French jail but his lawyer has urged for his release citing multiple health problems. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian associates of Tariq Ramadan, now in a French jail over an investigation into allegations of rape, have started a petition to highlight the Swiss Islamic scholar’s deteriorating health condition, urging the French ambassador in Kuala Lumpur to help put pressure on authorities there to free him.

In a letter to ambassador M Frederich Le Blanche, the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) said the authorities’ action against Ramadan did not subscribe to the French principles of liberty and equality.

“The campaign does not argue his innocence but rather we call for fair and equitable treatment to be extended to him on the premise that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, as is true with others accused of rape and awaiting trial,” said the letter, signed by JUST president Chandra Muzaffar and IRF director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, among others.

They have started the Free Tariq Ramadan Asia Campaign, part of a larger worldwide campaign to free Ramadan who was jailed in April.

Ramadan is one of Europe’s best known Muslim scholars. The professor at Oxford University is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, and has often criticised the literalist approach to Islam.

Ramadan, who has visited Malaysia several times on lecture tours, was detained by a French court in February over charges that he raped three women, which Ramadan says are part of a smear campaign by his enemies.

In the letter, Chandra said he hoped the French envoy would agree to meet urgently “so we may appeal to you in person”.

The letter also warned about Ramadan’s condition in prison, in light of a recent interview by his lawyer M Emmanuel Marsigny who had described him as “handicapped”.

“He has more or less lost the use of his legs,” Marsigny said in a radio interview in France. “He suffers from urinary incontinence. The lesions he is enduring today may be irreversible.”