I pray that the accused is entirely innocent, and merely a victim of a humongous conspiracy perpetrated by his adversaries and detractors — a possibility not necessarily implausible, in these highly politicised and polarised times. But a part of me can’t help seeing shades of Jimmy Saville all over again: a famous and esteemed individual openly accused of wrongdoing on numerous occasions, whose many victims are never believed.

Unsettling rumours swirl around for years about the exploitation of vulnerable women, but they are easily dismissed. The subject is honourable, respected and well-connected. The rumours are rejected as slander.

An alleged victim finally lodges a complaint, but she is dismissed as a liar and a fraud, and is sued for defamation, and disappears back into obscurity.

Years later, another alleged victim makes a complaint, but adoring fans close rank, and set out to prove that she is a scoundrel, fantasist and opportunist, or a bitter woman with mental health problems.

A few days later, a second woman comes forward with similar allegations, but she too is dismissed as a talebearer and a fraud. And then a third woman: likewise a clear liar, engaged in a frightful plot.

And it will not matter if there is a forth and fifth, or ten or twenty: none of them will be believed because they are nobodies, and the subject is from nobility, held in high esteem. Each accuser has a back-story which undermines them, and the accused has the perfect alibi: his fame is a magnet for false accusations.

Too many people with too many vested interests surround the accused to permit a fair hearing. For the followers of this personality, it can only be an awful witch hunt and a massive conspiracy to bring their beloved down. And it is a convincing connivance: the man has many enemies, apparently, always plotting his demise, for speaking the truth to power or presenting to the world a better picture of his people. Yes, it is certainly a seditious game of intrigue and treachery, in which an innocent man has been framed.

Who dares entertain even the slightest possibility that there is substance to the claims of all these women? No, by default they must be disbelieved, for it is the honourable thing to do. As with the philanthropist in the tracksuit, there will be no reckoning despite cause for concern. And even if impropriety is proved, diehard fans will never believe the verdict: it is an improbable impossibility. Better to give the respected one the benefit of the doubt, than to ponder the recurring accusations.

If only we could return power to the argument: to follow ideas, instead of personalities. If only we could do more to promote critical thinking in our communities, instead of taking everything at face value.

I pray that the accused is an innocent man, and merely a victim an appalling slander, perpetrated by antagonists who hope to bring him down through fraud and deception, and Allah certainly knows best. May Allah grant those who have been wronged justice. If the accused is innocent, may he be granted the justice he deserves. If he is guilty: may he be granted the justice he deserves. Truth will manifest eventually, for Allah is always with the truthful.

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