French police took prominent Swiss academic Tariq Ramadan into custody for questioning on Wednesday, just months after two women accused the Oxford University professor of rape.
A legal source told Agence France-Presse that Paris judicial police summoned the academic for questioning "as part of a preliminary inquiry in Paris into rape and assault allegations."
The allegations emerged late last year and prompted Ramadan to take a leave of absence from his post at Oxford. In a November statement, Oxford said it "acknowledged the gravity of the allegations" against Ramadan and emphasized "the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process."
French author Henda Ayari was one of the two women who filed police complaints against Ramadan. She said the scholar raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012.
Another woman, who has remained unnamed in news reports, accused Ramadan of raping and beating her in a hotel room during a 2009 conference in Lyon, France.
Four other women have accused Ramadan of making sexual advances toward them while they were students, BBC reported.
Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, has denied the allegations. In November, he directed his lawyer to sue Ayari for defamation.
"Many people are angry because I denounced someone whom people respect a lot," Ayari told The New York Times in October. "I, for example, never would have thought he would do that to me, never, never. I had a great admiration for him for years. For me, he was something like a saint."
The writer and activist had described the attack in a 2016 book without naming Ramadan as the alleged attacker. But she said she decided to publicly name him in the fall of 2017 "because there are religious men who profit from their position to abuse women."
Ramadan is an influential and at times controversial commentator on modern Islam, known to challenge Islamic fundamentalists and encourage dialogue between faiths. He is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s.
The allegations against Ramadan emerged in the aftermath of similar accusations made against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, which emboldened dozens of women to come forward their own with stories of sexual harassment and assault. In the wake of the Weinstein allegations, powerful men in many industries have been forced to reckon with their own misconduct, some of them facing criminal charges.