Indicted for four rapes and banned from leaving French territory, the preacher set up a training and research center in October providing courses in ethics, humanism and … feminism. First recruit: Yacob Mahi, sentenced in Belgium in 2019 for “deeds of morality” and given a three-year suspended prison sentence.
By Ian Hamel
Was Tariq Ramadan’s action pure provocation, or was it a very deep conviction that the justice of men does not concern him and that he defers to the justice of God? It already takes a great deal of aplomb – unless it is recklessness – to announce, in his situation, the launch of a “CHIFA” Research and Training Center. Hassan al-Banna’s grandson, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, indicted for four rapes in France, was imprisoned for ten months in 2018. Released in November 2018, Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss national, is obliged to remain in France and to report once a week to the Seine-Saint-Denis where he lives. Even if the preacher is still presumed innocent, the subjects addressed by the “CHIFA” Center are very interesting. Do they not deal with spirituality, humanism, and above all feminism? However, the investigation has already revealed that Tariq Ramadan led a sordid double life. Whereas for a quarter of a century he had been advocating an ultra-conservative virtue.
Now, the former Oxford University professor is setting the cat among the pigeons by announcing the appointment of Yacob Mahi as head of the “Faith and Belief” course. Presented as a theologian and Islamologist, this former professor of Islamic religion at the Leonardo Da Vinci Athenaeum in Anderlecht, Belgium, Yacob Mahi “will deal with aspects of the faith of Islam. He will look at the notion of belief, and the notion of faith through the 6 pillars”, explains the “CHIFA” Center. However, in November 2019, this teacher was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison sentence for “indecency” and “physical violence” by the 54th chamber of the Brussels criminal court. The sentence was accompanied by a ten-year ban on teaching. “Yacob Mahi, a teacher of Islamic religion, convicted of indecency and assault and battery of pupils”, headline La Libre Belgique of 5 November 2019, which emphasises that the teacher “used violence in order to establish his authority with the pupils”, physical violence that was “in no way tolerable”.
The scandal went beyond the borders of Belgium. The Muslim website Oumma.com recalls that the prosecutor had demanded four years in prison against Yacob Mahi. “Close to Tariq Ramadan, at whose side he spoke on the notion of ethics in Islam and shared his ideological closeness with the Muslim Brotherhood,” wrote the site, which recalls that Yacob Mahi was a disciple of Roger Garaudy, “who he said was his spiritual master”. For its part, the Saphir News site did not spare the former teacher from Anderlecht either, stressing that this conviction for “indecent acts” means that Yacob Mahi was found guilty of “indecent assault”, “incitement to debauchery” and “harassment”. In particular, he allegedly proposed to a young Brazilian boy under the age of 16, who was not legally resident in Belgium, “to come to his house to have sexual relations”. Yacob Mahi has always denied the acts of vice of which he is accused.
Tariq Ramadan will find it very difficult to claim that he was unaware of his friend’s legal past. Especially since last September, the former fallen teacher suffered another setback. In February 2015, a month after the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo, Yacob Mahi wrote in an open letter to the Belgian press that the satirical newspaper had “abused” freedom of expression. Judging that his comments were contrary to his duty of reserve, the government of the Federation of Wallonia-Brussels had sanctioned him, moving him to another establishment. The former teacher then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). On 3 September 2020, the Court unanimously declared his application “inadmissible”.
It remains to be seen why Tariq Ramadan recruits this scandalous character, knowing that his appointment will not go unnoticed. Admittedly, the preacher doesn’t have much choice anymore. Since his release from prison, all Muslim intellectuals in France have turned their backs on him, and no mosque wants to collaborate with him anymore.
Until now, Hani, director of the Islamic Center of Geneva and Tariq Ramadan had shared the tasks. Hani, who has never disavowed his membership of the Brotherhood, addressed himself to the convinced, the Islamists, who consider that the laws of the Republic (or of the Swiss Confederation) can be flouted. He thus multiplied the provocations, in particular guaranteeing stoning in the case of adultery. Tariq, on the other hand, tried to charm the “moderates” and, before his imprisonment, avoided crossing the yellow line. In other words, the two brothers would drive the herd back to their respective sides. But since his release from prison, Tariq Ramadan has radically changed his stance, accusing the French government of “Islamophobia” and multiplying in turn the provocations. The magistrates in charge of his case are regularly insulted on social networks. Will he go all the way to the end of his approach, which consists of not recognising courts made up of “kouffar”?