Tariq Ramadan has been convicted in Paris of the offence of “outrage” (less sensationally, of “insulting a public official”). He entered a guilty plea.
Tariq Ramadan’s account of the events leading to his conviction is as follows:
I arrived from Mulhouse after a 35 minutes delay. I had 3 minutes left to catch the flight for London. Feeling very tired after an intensive weekend, I ran from a terminal to the other. At a barrier, you have to present your boarding card in order to enter the area, if you were coming from outside a Schengen country. I only had my passport with me. However, one of the members of stalf let me pass.
Then a woman stopped me from proceeding. I explained the situation to her: that I had only 2 minutes to make my flight, but she gestured to me to stand in line. She added “the law is the law”, with an smarmy smile. It is that smile which irritated me.
I walked on. She ran after me. And at that point, I said to her:
“You are bitch <"conne“>, Madam.”
A colleague arrived. I repeated to him that it was the result of an mistake on their part. He responded that it wasn’t and that I was going to miss my plane. Exasperated, I spluttered: “You are really two arseholes.” I wish I hadn’t said that. I used two bad words.
But listen to what happened next! A police officer pushed me in the car brutally, and then then insulted me: “”
I spent the night rotting in a cell as a result of this pointless overzealousness. It is an experience which has taught me that you’re never safe.”
The word “conne” is usually translated as “bitch”. As it is derived from the word for a woman’s private parts, it is probably better translated as “twat”: a sexualised insult which is less offensive than the insult, “cunt”.
There are those who will seek to explain Ramadan’s response to being asked to stand in line in terms of the differing cultural norms in Middle Eastern society. That would be absurd. Ramadan is Swiss, and is a university professor.
Look at it this way. Those who think they are rather grand, irrespective of their background, are prone to getting into trouble with public functionaries.
Ramadan’s behaviour, and his response, is precisely the sort of thing you’d expect from a superannuated Tory MP who had downed one whisky too many in the airport bar.
Progressive liberals are certainly not immune from getting into slanging matches with public officials. Although liberal and lefties tend to shy away from using sexualised terms of abuse. And they tend not to find women sporting sarcastic smiles particularly infuriating.
Still, Ramadan is neither a liberal, nor a progressive.