The French government has frozen the assets of controversial Swiss imam Hani Ramadan as part of the fight against the financing of terrorism.
His assets have been frozen for six months, according to the decree published on Sunday in the official French government bulletin and reported on Tuesday by the Lyon Capitale magazine. This is within the framework of an article of the Monetary and Financial Code targeting “natural or legal persons, or any other entity that commits, attempts to commit, facilitates, finances, incites or participates in acts of terrorism”.
He has two months to contest the freezing of his assets, said the decree, made jointly by the economy, finance and interior ministries.
Contacted by the Swiss News Agency, Ramadan said he was the victim of “political posturing”, adding that the freezing of his assets was pointless as he didn’t have any assets in France, not even a bank account. He said he had contacted his lawyer to work out a response to give to the French authorities.
Ramadan’s name was one of 16 on a list of foreign nationals sentenced for or suspected of having links to a terrorist organisation or of carrying out propaganda for such an organisation.
Ramadan, who in April 2017 was barred from France and escorted by police to the Swiss border, is the elder brother of Tariq Ramadan, also a Geneva-born Islamic scholar who is currently being held in custody in France for allegedly raping several women. He has formally contested the charges.
The French Interior Ministry said last April that Hani Ramadan had “in the past adopted behaviour and made remarks posing a serious threat to public order on French soil”.
A scholar, teacher and imam born in Geneva, Hani Ramadan, 59, is one of six children. His family fled from Egypt to Switzerland following the assassination of their maternal grandfather, Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan has been director of the controversial Islamic Centre of Geneva since 1995 and leads canton Geneva’s Union of Muslim Organisations.
Ramadan came to attention on September 10, 2002, when French daily newspaper Le Monde published a column he penned titled “The misunderstood Sharia”, in which he defended the stoning of adulterers, saying it was not as cruel as one might think. He also suggested that HIV was a divine punishment. The controversy that arose from the column’s publication let to Ramadan’s immediate dismissal from his teaching position.
Ramadan has also incited controversy with several anti-Israeli statements denouncing conspiracies by the Jewish state. For example, shortly after the Paris terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015, he wrote on his blog, hosted by the Tribune de Genève: “Islam has nothing to do with any of this […] Let’s start by looking at Mossad [Israel’s secret service]”.