Tariq Ramadan: SA groups join call for fair trial to top Islamic scholar

By Al Qalam Reporter

The South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) and Islamic Forum has urged the community to sign a worldwide online petition that calls for a  fair trial for renowned Islamic Scholar, Tariq Ramadan, who is being held in a French prison since February this year on alleged trumped up charges relating to sexual offences which he denies.

“The Islamic Forum & SAMNET support the FREE TARIQ RAMADAN CAMPAIGN and urge all South Africans to sign the petition,” they said in a statement.

The worldwide online Appeal for Due Process (#FreeTariqRamadan) has been signed by hundreds of people, including prominent international scholars and politicians. Local organizations, Islamic Forum and SAMNET are asking South Africans to do the same.

The online appeal reads:  “After four months of pre-trial detention, Tariq Ramadan’s last appeal for bail has again been denied. As scholars and politicians from around the world, we write to demand due process for Professor Tariq Ramadan, incarcerated since February 2nd in a French prison.

“It is not for us to judge Tariq Ramadan’s guilt or innocence. We fully recognize the rights of the plaintiffs to have their case heard without prejudice and without injury to their honour. But we wish to remind the country that has affirmed the inalienability of human rights and equality of the importance of respect for the principles that ensure the integrity of French justice.

“We ask: ‘Why has Mr. Ramadan been denied bail at the preliminary investigative stage although he willingly came for questioning and has given all required guarantees? Has Mr. Ramadan been granted the equal treatment so prized by France when high-ranking political figures accused of similar offenses continue to enjoy full freedom of movement? Is there one form of justice for Muslims in France and another for everyone else? What justifies solitary confinement, limited family visitation rights, the denial of access to his case file and thus to the necessary means of preparing his defense? Can prosecutors selectively leak information with impunity? Is it standard procedure in France for high-ranking political figures to publicly denigrate someone awaiting a trial?’  In short, we respectfully ask, has Mr. Ramadan benefitted from a fair and equitable legal process, one in which he is presumed innocent until proven guilty? These are straightforward questions of equal justice. To them we add deep concern for the dignity and humane treatment of all prisoners.

The online appeal pointed out that French magistrates have appeared to ignore the diagnoses of nine physicians that Mr. Ramadan suffers from multiple sclerosis, including the chief prison medical authority, who confirmed that his state of health is not compatible with continued incarceration.

“Even though Mr. Ramadan suffers from multiple sclerosis and further neurological complications, proper medical treatment has not been provided. We understand that the defense has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights against undue suffering he has undergone at the hands of the French justice. We ask our French friends: ‘should it truly come to this? We, the signatories of this letter, endorse France’s commitment to uphold the values of liberté, égalité et fraternité threatened today around the world. We trust that your response to our appeal will prove these sentiments to be well placed.”


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