Rabat – The prominent Islamic scholar and television commentator Tariq Ramadan, 56, surprised a Paris suburb municipal conference on "Combating Daily Violence against Women" when he showed up uninvited.
Ramadan's presence irritated attendees and organizers of the event. The municipality of Saint-Denis released a statement noting, "Neither the municipality nor the participants has invited Ramadan nor wished his presence."
The organizer of the event, Madjid Messaoudene, confirmed in a tweet that Ramadan had not been invited.
French prosecutors indicted Tariq Ramadan on three charges of sexual assault of women in February 2018. Ramadan refused to leave the conference, even after being asked, according to the municipality.
Ramadan's refusal to leave was an "insult to the people shocked at his attendance," the statement read.
Attendees instead left in protest of the scholar's "provocative" and "ignoble" presence.
The municipality of Saint-Denis asserted, "The presence of Tariq Ramadan at the conference is unacceptable and indecent."
The municipality stressed that it was unjustifiable that a debate on such an important issue be "pestered" and "hijacked" by Ramadan's provocative presence.
Le Figaro journalist Fatiha Agag-Boudjahlat described Ramadan as a religious hypocrite, arguing that his presence was in itself violence against women.
French authorities arrested Tariq Ramadan early in 2018 on allegations of sexual assault and rape. He was placed in solitary confinement and, according to his lawyers, denied medical care for his multiple sclerosis.
Ramadan faces five rape charges. In October 2017, two women brought charges of rape against Ramadan over incidents in 2009 and 2012.
A third women stepped forward and accused Ramadan of rape later. Ramadan acknowledged having relations with the woman but argued it was consensual. The case was dismissed.
Ramadan served up to 10 months in jail during the investigation into the series of allegations against him. The French judiciary released Ramadan on a $340,000 bail in November 2018.
Ramadan's case drew a number of sympathizers globally. Thousands have signed a petition demanding Ramadan's release, including American intellectual Noam Chomsky, Islamic scholar Amina Wadud, British journalist Peter Oborne, and Leila Ahmed of Harvard University.
A French court denied Ramadan's request for dismissal of the charges in July 2018.
According to Ramadan's supporters, the French justice system treated him differently from others with similar charges because he is Muslim.