PARIS — Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Swiss-born scholar of Islam, was charged in France with rape on Friday, based on accusations made against him four months ago by two women. He has denied the accusations as a smear.
Mr. Ramadan, a 55-year-old theologian and philosopher, was placed under formal investigation on charges of rape and rape of a vulnerable person, according to a spokesman for the French judiciary.
The spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy, said that Mr. Ramadan would be kept in custody while a judge decides on whether to grant him bail. The prosecution has requested that he remain under arrest.
Mr. Ramadan is the author of several books on Islam and on the Western world, and is considered by some experts to offer a moderate, tolerant version of the faith. But critics, especially in France, say he is a demagogue who hides radical views behind a polished media persona.
The women’s accusations have put a dent in his projected image as a pious family man. He has characterized them as part of an organized campaign of slander by his enemies.
Mr. Ramadan was taken into custody for questioning on Wednesday, when he answered a police summons in Paris. Now that a formal investigation has begun, Mr. Ramadan’s fate remains uncertain.
In France, complex criminal cases are handled by special magistrates with broad investigative powers. Defendants placed under formal investigation will not automatically go to trial, as the magistrates can drop cases they believe show insufficient evidence.
If Mr. Ramadan goes to trial and if he is convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison on the charge of rape, and up to 20 years on the separate charge of rape of a vulnerable person. That charge was included because Mr. Ramadan’s second accuser is partly disabled, requiring her to walk with a crutch because of a car accident.