Several Moroccan associations cancelled their intended solidarity meeting in support of the controversial French scholar, Tariq Ramadan on Saturday. The associations announced their intended meeting for Ramadan, who is currently being prosecuted and jailed by French authorities for sexual assault and rape, earlier this week.
The solidarity meeting was expected to take place on Saturday, February 17 at 5 p.m. at the Mohammed VI Theater in Casablanca, after receiving approval from the borough of Roches Noires, represented by Islamist PJD member Nourredine Qarbal.
"We had all the documents and permissions but we were told that a stamp on a notice delivered by the Ministry of the Interior was missing," Abderrahmane Lahlou, a member of one of the seven organizing associations, told the media outlet le360, while several people gathered in front of the theatre.
Hicham Abkari, director of the Mohammed VI theater in Casablanca, told the media outlet that the solidarity meeting was not banned.
"There is a missing document, and if all the pieces are provided, they can organize their event," Abkari said from behind the theatre's main gate.
In line with the meeting's spirit, the lawyer Abdellah Hatimi, from the Moroccan Association for the Defense of the Independence of Justice, said that "the French justice is not independent and Tariq Ramadan should not remand in custody since there is no evidence of wrongdoing."
Hatimi also pointed out that all members of the organizing committee, knew Ramadan closely as they welcomed him during his multiple stays in Morocco.
Many prominent figures were expected to feature in the event, such as Abdelatif Hatimi, Jawad Iraqui, Abderrahmane Lahlou, and Abdelali Hamiedddin, a member of PJD political bureau, who had earlier said that he only accepted the invitation to "talk about the ideas" of the controversial scholar.
The announcement of the event sparked an online backlash, as many argued that it's not appropriate to hold such a meeting in light of the allegations of sexual violence against Ramadan, who remains in French custody.
"We expressed our solidarity with Saad Lamjarred...with Tariq Ramadan...The two may be innocent (pending judgment)...but what does it mean to be in solidarity with a person accused of rape and sexual violence?...Solidarity with what? With sexual violence? With sexual frustration? How can we simply accept normalising rape and sexual violence?" wrote the Moroccan sociologist Sanaa Elaji.
"They all say they are Tariq Ramadan... How could we know if they are really Tariq Ramadan... Let us wait for the justice decision and see how many Tariq Ramadan are among us," wrote a human rights activist, Fadwa Rajwani.
Ramadan, who is the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood's founder, was accused of rape by author and former Salafi Henda Ayari in 2012, on the sidelines of a congress of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France.
She was the first woman to attempt to bring Mr. Ramadan to justice, saying she was adamant to "carry this fight till the end, whatever the cost." She was later joined by a woman named Christelle, who stepped forward claiming she was also raped by the Swiss scholar in a French hotel in 2009.
The 55-year-old theologian has firmly denied wrongdoing and accusations that he sexually assaulted the two women in 2009 and 2012, claiming that these allegations are part of a "campaign of lies launched by [his] adversaries."