France opens rape inquiry of Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan

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French authorities say prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan is being investigated for allegedly raping two women and could be detained in long-term custody pending further investigation.

A judicial official said the Paris prosecutor's office opened a formal inquiry Friday based on complaints against Ramadan the women filed last year. The official says Ramadan could be handed preliminary charges of rape in one case and rape of a vulnerable person in the second case.

The judicial official was not authorized to be publicly named and requested anonymity.

The prosecutor's office is asking judges to keep Ramadan in custody.

Ramadan, who is Swiss, strongly denies wrongdoing and has filed his own suit for false allegations. He is on leave from Oxford University, where he is a professor of contemporary Islamic studies.