Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

False Gay Marriage Rumor Sparks Kenyan Riots
BY DOUG IRELAND
GAY CITY NEWS, Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:28 PM CST

In the coastal town of Mtwapa in Kenya’s Kilifi district, media hysteria and outrage by clerics over a non-existent gay wedding whipped up mob violence that began on February 12, unleashing a house-to-house witch hunt by anti-gay vigilantes, street attacks targeting gay men, the sacking of an AIDS-fighting medical center, and a widening wave of ultra-homophobic national media coverage.

Many gay men have gone into hiding or fled the area.

From Nairobi, the nation’s capital, Denis Nzioka, a prominent 24-year-old gay activist, told Gay City News, “Ever since the outburst of violence in Mtwapa, gay people have had to fear for their lives. Vigilante groups are hunting down gay men, going door to door, and anyone who is overly flamboyant is attacked in the street.”

According to an internal report jointly prepared by on-scene representatives of both the leading Kenyan queer group, the two-year-old Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a non-governmental organization formed two decades ago, the wave of anti-gay violence had Kafkaesque origins in a false rumor about a gay wedding supposedly planned for February 12.

“There is even a suggestion that it was a planted story,” said the GALCK-KHRC report, adding, “In any case, the most repeated version is that about two weeks ago a well-known and popular gay man in the Mtwapa area went to a barbershop for a haircut. When one of the barbers commented that his hair looked really nice and asked him where was going, he responded jokingly that he was going to get married. However, the barber took it seriously and went to his local mosque and reported that there was a planned gay wedding set for Friday, February 12 in Mtwapa.”

That mosque’s imam then announced the so-called “wedding” to his congregation and instructed his flock to begin monitoring any community gatherings to insure that no gay weddings could take place.

After this, “a local radio station, Kaya FM, picked up the story and started a series of programs on gays,” according to the GALCK-KHRC report, which Nzioka told this reporter included phone-in talk shows filled with homophobic discourse and incitements to violence.

“Kaya FM presents in Swahili and many of the Minikenda languages, and therefore has a real grassroots reach,” the report said, adding, “The main focus of the discussions was the impending ‘wedding’ of two men in Mtwapa. Other local radio stations also picked up the story, including Baraka FM, Rahma FM, and ultimately national radio stations including Kiss and Classic FM.”

Five days before the date of the alleged wedding, “many of the muftis and imams discussed the impending wedding during Friday prayers and asked the community to be vigilant against homosexuals. They told their congregants to demonstrate and to flush out homosexuals from the midst of Mtwapa and to ensure that no gay wedding took place,” the GALCK-KHRC report declared.

Nzioka told this reporter, “Mtwapa is predominantly Muslim, and the imams have a lot of power and influence there.”

Some 60 percent of Kenya’s Muslim population lives in the coastal area where Mtwapa is located. Kenya is roughly 10 percent Muslim, 33 percent Roman Catholic, and 45 percent Protestant, according to the country’s entry in the CIA World Factbook.

As a harbinger of things to come, on the evening of the February 7, following anti-gay preachings in Muslim mosques, a group of young men invaded Kalifornia, the main gay club in Mtwapa, and while dancing warned in the form of a song, “Gays have no joy and this time round they will have no joy or happiness for them.” In the days that followed, calls were heard from rioters to burn down Kalifornia.

On February 11, a homophobic press conference condemning the next day’s purported wedding was held by Sheikh Ali Hussein, regional coordinator of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), together with Bishop Lawrence Chai, regional representative of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK).

According to a story in the Daily Nation about the press conference, “The clerics claimed that a large number of youths were being recruited into gay clubs and warned that ‘God is about to punish the fastest growing town in the Coast region. Come night, come day, we shall not allow that marriage to be conducted in this town tomorrow. We shall stand firm to flush out gays who throng this town every weekend from all corners of this country,’ the religious leaders said.”

The two clerics “said they had given the government seven days to close down night clubs they accused of fuelling homosexuality in the town,” the Daily Nation reported, adding that the two “asked the government to ‘save the country from the shame of being used to conduct a marriage between people of the same sex.’ They also warned the owner of a building in the town, who was allegedly renting rooms only to homosexuals, to evict them or face their wrath. They gave him a seven-day ultimatum to throw out tenants.”

The two clerics also denounced the Mtwapa clinic run by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), a large national organization with 750 staff members nationwide that runs a research program co-sponsored by Britain’s Oxford University. The clinic has an AIDS program for counseling and treating men who have sex with men.

Sheikh Hussein and Bishop Chai demanded that the government investigate the KEMRI clinic for providing services to homosexuals.

“How can a state institution be involved on the pretext of providing counseling to these criminals?,” the two clerics said, according to the Daily Nation, and they added, “We ask that the government shut it down with immediate effect or we will descend on its officials.”

The day after this inflammatory press conference, a well-organized mob of some 200 to 300 people armed with sticks, stones, and other weapons, and led by a vigilante leader named Faridi surrounded the KEMRI clinic, which was alleged to be the site of the non-existent wedding, and demanded that all the “shogas” come out of the building. “Shoga” is a Swahili word used as a pejorative against homosexuals — the equivalent of “faggot” — but also by women when referring to their close female friends.

Faridi, the vigilante leader, entered the clinic accompanied by police officers and confronted a staff member wearing a World AIDS Day T-shirt with a pink triangle that read “Condoms prevent AIDS” in Swahili. The vigilante is reported to have said, “This man is a shoga,” and at his demand, the police arrested him. Another KEMRI staffer was arrested later, also at Faridi’s insistence.

Nzioka told Gay City News that the KEMRI clinic was subsequently sacked, with material including computers destroyed, and was forced to shut down. This disruption of the clinic’s work means that many HIV-positive people who access care and treatment there have not been able to get their medications for days, which has serious health consequences for them.

Later that same day, “after Friday prayers” in Mtwapa’s mosques, “mobs of individuals went to the homes of suspected homosexuals looking for them,” said the GALCK-KHRC report, which also recounted speeches to a large mob that had gathered outside the local police station. Sheikh Hussein addressed the crowd in a manner “that was inciting, and he kept talking about Sodom and Gomorrah and the need to root out all homosexuals from the Mtwapa area,” the report said.

A former member of Kenya’s parliament, Omar Masumbuko, was one of several politicians who also addressed the mob. “He said that homosexuality must be stopped and every means used to make that happen,” according to the GALCK-KHRC report. “He told the crowd they should not even bother to bring the homosexuals they find to the police station but should take care of the issue themselves,”

Sodomy and sex “against the order of nature” are crimes in Kenya, punishable by ten years in prison, under a law inherited from the period of British colonial rule, which ended in 1963.

February 12 was punctuated by numerous attacks on gay people. At 8 that morning, before leading the mob attack on the KEMRI clinic, Faridi was joined by police in storming and ransacking the home of a gay man, who was arrested along with a friend who was visiting from abroad. While searching the guest’s luggage, they found jewelry that included some rings. Faridi immediately said that these were the rings for the intended wedding.

In a separate incident, a 23-year-old security guard was descending from a bus heading toward the center of Mtwapa when he was set upon by a mob that threatened him with death and beat him senseless. A female sex worker tried to protect him with her body and yelled at the crowd that they can’t kill people like that and that the man had not done anything, but the mob doused the man with kerosene, preparing to burn him alive. At this point the police arrived, but instead of arresting anyone in the mob, they arrested the man it had attacked. The bloodied, dazed man was incarcerated and denied medical attention.

The following day, a volunteer at the KEMRI clinic was attacked by a mob, which chanted that it was actually his wedding they had disrupted. The man was severely beaten and burnt with cigarette butts. As the mob prepared to douse the man with kerosene, he too was arrested. After his arrest, a mob attempted to attack the Mtwapa police station but was repulsed with tear gas.

In total, six men presumed to be gay were arrested, some of them forced to undergo medical examinations for evidence of sodomy, and all were scheduled for a court appearance on February 15. But Nzioka told this reporter that, after intervention by an attorney provided by KHRC, all six were released from custody, and have now fled the area.

Nzioka also said that the wave of anti-gay violence and protests in Mtwapa had received “huge” publicity in all the national media, particularly radio and television, but that “all of it was, sadly, very, very homophobic,” and that the media had utterly failed to reach out to representatives of the gay community. Instead, he said, gay-baiting commentaries and reactions from imams and other religious and anti-gay leaders were featured.

Asked by Gay City News if the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was sending a staff member to Kenya from its branch office in Johannesburg, South Africa, the organization’s executive director, Cary Alan Johnson, replied in an e-mail, “We are not sending a staff member to Kenya at this point, as we have full confidence in the local LGBT movement, which is grouped together under the banner of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) to respond to the situation. Also, a number of national and local mainstream human rights partners, particularly the Kenya Human Rights Coalition, are engaging with the clear recognition that an attack on the rights of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is an attack on the freedoms of all Kenyan citizens.”

GALCK is not a membership organization but an alliance of five other groups — Ishtar, a health group for men who have sex with men; Gaykenya.com, a web site; Minority Women in Action, a lesbian group; the Gender Education and Advocacy Project (GEAP), a group for transgendered and intersex people; and The Other Man in Kenya (TOMIKI), a social network of gay professionals in the medical, legal, and other fields, most of whom, Nzioka said, are “very discreet.”

The consciousness informing at least some in GALCK’s leadership has raised concerns. In a statement demanding government protection for gays published on the group’s website, its general manager, David Kuria, wrote, “We also call upon the religious leaders in Kenya to appreciate that compulsory heterosexuality is not the way to enforce their religion. GALCK members are willing to enter into dialogue with them, and if they truly have a cure for homosexuality, then we are most happy to take it, BUT NOT UNDER CONDITIONS OF DURESS.”

Since the American Psychiatric Association and most of its Western peer groups have not only completely discredited the notion that there can be a “cure” for homosexuality, but also affirmed that attempting to inflict such a “cure” on those with a same-sex orientation can be extremely harmful psychologically, it is quite disturbing to see the leader of a gay group like GALCK say that his members would be “happy to take” such a so-called cure if available.

Kuria could not be reached for comment by press time.

GALCK has five paid staff members and, Nzioka told this reporter, receives the bulk of its funding from LLH, the Norwegian LGBT Association.

There is no immediate prospect of repeal of the anti-gay sodomy statute in Kenya. Nzioka told Gay City News that Kenya’s gay community has “copiously” inundated the experts drafting a new national constitution with documents supporting the repeal of anti-gay laws and the extension of human rights to LGBT people, but that the committee has turned a deaf ear, and “has even buckled under to homophobia by removing a section which said that ‘every person has a right to start a family,’ which was interpreted as giving gays the right to have or adopt children.”

Moreover, said Nzioka, while there are a handful of friendly elected public officials and politicians with whom queer groups are in contact, “all are secretive, very discreet” about their support for gay rights and there is no organized evidence of that support in the national parliament.

Meanwhile, the Mtawapa witch-hunt shows no signs of letting up: at the beginning of this week, Sheikh Hussein launched radio appeals for a mass anti-gay demonstration in Mtawapa on February 19.

A video report on the Mtwapa incidents from Kenya’s NTV is at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLM0vagfOgY&feature=player_embedded

The web site of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) is at http://galck.org/index.php.

Gaykenya is at http://www.gaykenya.com.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission is at http://www.khrc.or.ke/.

Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at http://direland.typepad.com/

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“Kill gays” preacher hosted by London universities

Vice Chancellor urged to resign, after ignoring complaints

Student’s Union backs hosting Islamist hate-mongers

London – 24 November 2009

“University College London is planning to host an extremist Islamist preacher, Abu Usamah, who endorses the murder of gay people and of Muslims who give up their faith. He also encourages the beating of little girls who refuse to wear the hijab,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“The university would never allow a lecture by a white supremacist who used racist abuse and advocated the murder of black people. Why the double standards?” queried Mr Tatchell.

Abu Usamah has been invited to address the Islamic Society at University College London next Monday, 30 November.

On 4 November, he was given a similar platform by City University.

“The Vice Chancellor of City University London, Julius Weinberg, should resign. He has ignored student’s complaints after the Islamic Society organised an on-campus meeting addressed by Abu Usamah.

“It is utterly disgraceful that the student’s union has defended the hosting of this hate preacher, and that the Vice Chancellor has not responded to protests from students. This violates the equal opportunities policies of the university and the student’s union,” added Mr Tatchell.

Abu Usamah was recorded for Channel Four’s television documentary, Undercover Mosque, as saying: “Do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man ….and throw him off the mountain…. If I was to turn around and I was to call homosexuals perverted, dirty filthy dogs that should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech isn’t it?”

On Muslims who leave the faith he said: “Kill him in the Islamic state…If the Imam wants to crucify him, he should crucify him. The person is put up on the wood and he’s left there to bleed to death for three days.”

Abu Usamah was also filmed by Channel Four deriding women as “deficient”, inferior to men and religously and intellectually “incomplete.” He advocates violence against little girls who refuse to wear the hijab: “She should start hijab from the age of seven, by the age of ten it becomes an obligation on us to force her to wear hijab and if she doesn’t wear hijab, we hit her.”

Another speaker given a platform at the same City University event on 4 November, Murtaza Khan, was also caught on the Undercover Mosque documentary calling Jews and Christians “enemies” and non-Muslims “filthy”.

“The Vice Chancellor seems unwilling to uphold the university’s equal opportunities policy. He has failed to defend Muslim, Jewish, Christian, gay and women students and staff against these hate-mongers. Having neglected to ensure that the university is a safe, non-threatening place to work and study, Julius Weinberg should stand down,” said Mr Tatchell.

A copy of the City University newspaper news report and editorial on the case follows below.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell – 0207 403 1790

Fran Singh, Editor, The Inquirer
fran@cityinquirer.com
0781 799 8889

A copy of the City University newspaper news report and editorial on the case:

Storm over extremist preachers

The Inquirer, City University London newspaper

18 NOVEMBER 2009
By Gemma Meredith

http://cityinquirer.com/?p=1156

Lesbian and gay students have condemned City’s Islamic Society for hosting an extreme Islamist preacher at a campus event.

Abu Usamah spoke at the Islamic Society’s charity fundraising event “The People of Paradise and Hellfire” on Wednesday 4 November. He is notorious for his appearance in a Channel 4 documentary two years ago making inflammatory comments about homosexuals, women, non-Muslims and those who have left the faith.

The film recorded him saying: “Do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.” On Muslims who leave the faith he said: “If the Imam wants to crucify him, he should crucify him. The person is put up on the wood and he’s left there to bleed to death for three days.”

He also claimed on the record that women were inferior to men: “Allah has created the woman, even if she has a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete. Deficient. She may be suffering from hormones that will make her emotional. It takes two witnesses of a woman to equal the one witness of the man.”

The City University Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Society released a statement on Usamah’s appearance, saying: “Providing publicity for extremists who preach hate risks not just freedom of speech, but all human rights, democracy and ultimately, the well-being of students at City University.

“We strongly oppose the decision to invite extremist Abu Usamah to speak at one of the largest lecture theatres at City University. Inviting such a controversial extremist who has previously expressed offensive views about homosexuals, women and non-Muslims to our university campus is morally and ethically wrong.

“Events such as this, led by a speaker who shares generally immoral views including homophobia, is likely to lead to an already increasing rise in hate crime in London.”

Usamah avoided controversy at the City event, delivering a moderate speech. Although he condemned killing in the name of jihad (holy war), he also said: “Jihad is from our religion. We will not renounce our religion.”

It is not only Usumah’s appearance that has caused concern. The opening speaker, Murthadah Khan, was also caught on the Undercover Mosque documentary calling Jews and Christians “enemies” and “filthy”. Publicity for the event said: “Bring all your friends; Muslims, kuffaar.” Kuffaar is a derogatory term for non-Muslims.

The Inquirer offered an interview to the Islamic Society, which declined to comment. Acting vice-chancellor Julius Weinberg was also unavailable for comment.

Marcus Mikely, vice-president of communications and publications for City students’ union, said: “The university has no right to stop this from happening as the event was based around charity, not his views on other subjects. If the union had received complaints prior to the event, we would have looked into it.”

This is not the first time the Islamic Society has courted controversy. In April it invited Anwar al-Awlaki to address a meeting via video link from Yemen.

Al-Awlaki, an American, has been accused by the US Government of encouraging “terrorist acts” via the internet. He was interviewed by the FBI after the 9/11 attacks, when he was accused of serving as a spiritual adviser to two of the terrorists. He recently had communication with Major Nidal Hassan, the US soldier who killed 13 people at the Fort Hood army base. He has described Hassan as “a hero”.

In April the university officials intervened, warning the society that broadcasting al-Awlaki’s speech would break university rules. The university’s official code of practice on freedom of speech says: “We will guarantee by policy and action the right of free speech within the university community unless the exercise of such a right can be shown to lead to or increase significantly the probability of the discrimination of individuals or groups, harm to individuals or groups within the university, or the university or the community within which the university is located.”

EDITORIAL – The Inquirer says

19 NOVEMBER 2009

http://cityinquirer.com/?p=1281

Tragically, the Islamic society has become both victim as well as a perpetrator of discrimination within the space of a week. The horrific mob attack in which four Asians were stabbed (two of them City students), appears to have been racially motivated.

There is no evidence to suggest the attack is in anyway linked to the invitation of radical Muslim preachers Abu Usamah and Murthadah Khan, which was strongly condemned by the LGBT society, but there must be questions asked as to why extremism has been allowed to prosper in the Islamic society. Consider these quotes by Abu Usamah and Murthadah Khan: “Do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.”

“Allah has created the woman, even if she has a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete. Deficient. It takes two witnesses of a woman to equal the one witness of the man.” “Those whom the wrath of God is upon is the Jew and the Christian. These people are enemies towards us.”

Why does the Islamic society continue to invite hate preachers to the university? It certainly does nothing to promote integration with other communities and can often lead to dangerous and incorrect stereotyping.

It is not the university’s place to ban everyone who challenges and pushes the boundaries – as it has done on past occasions with varying inconsistency. Free speech is a universal right and should be defended, but hate speech should not. Equally, we should be free to criticise those who wish to divide us, spread homophobia and sexism, and call Jews and Christians “filthy”.

The Islamic Society needs to take more responsibility about whom it extends invitations to. The university, a place for education, should not be the arena for non-educational talks from radicals, especially when it causes serious offence to large proportions of the student population.

Since the attacks the Islamic Society has published a graphic on its website saying “Islamaphobia is terrorism”. It also added: “Non-Muslims are also encouraged to take care of themselves and be cautious of any suspicious behaviour. Our concern is not restricted to Muslim welfare only.” With no pun intended, perhaps the society needs to practice what it preaches a little bit more. It doesn’t appear to be too concerned about the welfare of those whose Khan and Usamah’s opinions so actively risk.

Further information: Fran Singh, Editor, The Inquirer
fran@cityinquirer.com
0781 799 8889

ENDS

www.petertatchell.net

No Sharia rally in London
Oppose all religious laws & courts

Call for secularism & universal human rights

London – 21 November 2009

Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims joined forces in London to protest against Sharia and against all religious laws and courts.

The themes of the protest were “one law for all” and “universal human rights.”

Expressing solidarity with Muslims resisting the “inequalities and inhumanities” of Sharia law, the protesters affirmed their commitment to democracy, secularism, equality and human rights.

The rally took place in Hyde Park today, Saturday 21 November 2009

Among those addressing the crowds were speakers from Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh and the UK. They expressed solidarity with Muslim communities worldwide and condemned racist, anti-Muslim far right and fascist groups.

“Sharia law is a form of religious dogma and tyranny. It is homophobic, sexist and anti-democratic. It persecutes LGBT Muslims. Same-sex acts carry the death penalty in several Islamic states. Gay people can be stoned to death or hanged in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. We support LGBT Muslims – and all Muslims – who are fighting for their freedom,” said Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage! and Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

“This protest supports secular democracy. Secularism is often confused with anti-clericalism. The two are not the same. Secularism is not against religion per se. It is against giving religion privileged status, rights and protections.

“We believe there should be a separation of religion from the state. No faith should dominate any government and seek to impose its creed on the rest of society. When this happens, freedom of expression is diminished and minority faiths are victimised.

“For these reasons, secularism is not only an important element of freedom of expression. It is also the best guarantee of religious freedom, as it prevents any one faith becoming politically dominant and abusing its powers to oppress people of other faiths,” Mr Tatchell added.

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris condemned the government for “caving in to religious pressure.” He cited the way Britain’s equality laws allow religious bodies to discriminate against LGBT people and people in certain circumstances. Mr Harris also condemned the government for giving privileged advisory status on policy and legislation to often unrepresentative faith leaders.

Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union warned that over 50 Islamic states, with the support of many developing countries, are currently “demanding that the United Nations outlaw the defamation of religion.” This would restrict free speech by criminalising criticism and condemnation of religious beliefs and institutions, he said.

A speaker from Iraq, Issam Shukri, told the rally how Islamist militias linked to the cleric and MP Muqtada al-Sadr had executed dozens of women who they deemed to be improperly dressed because were not fully covered head-to-toe. These militias have also organised death squad executions of LGBT Iraqis.

Maryan Namazie, the rally organiser, told the crowd:

“Our rally is being held to mark Universal Children’s Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We are not defending western values. We are defending universal humanitarian values. Sharia adversely affects the rights, lives and freedoms of countless human beings across the world. Opposing Sharia law is a crucial step in defending universal equal rights and secularism, and showing real solidarity with people living under and resisting Sharia.”

Philosopher AC Grayling warned that Sharia law was an attack on precious, hard-won, civil liberties. It was a threat to freedom of speech, freedom of belief and freedom of conscience, he said.

Rahila Gupta from Southall Black Sisters highlighted the way religion and cultural tradition are often anti-women and homophobic. She urged solidarity with women resisting patriarchal clericalism and demanded equal rights for women, whatever their cultural, ethnic or religious background.

Excerpts from Peter Tatchell’s speech at the Hyde Park rally:

“We are here to defend Muslim people – and all people everywhere – who are victims of religious tyranny.

“We support the many victims of Sharia law, especially the Muslim women who are campaigning for equality. We cannot accept the way Islamic states, including western allies like Saudi Arabia, restrict women’s freedom of movement, make women subject to the control of male guardians, deny women access to certain jobs and positions in government and enforce the compulsory veiling of women with the hijab, niqab, jilbab or burqa.

“We stand in opposition to all religious laws in Britain and worldwide.

“We express our support for the many courageous, inspiring Muslims who are campaigning against the inequalities and inhumanities of Sharia law, often at great risk to their liberty and life.

“Contrary to the way our critics are trying to misrepresent our rally, this is not an attack on Muslims or Islam. We are here to support Muslims who are resisting Sharia law.

“We defend Muslims and people of all faiths against hatred and discrimination. The victimisation of people because of their religious beliefs is just as wrong as victimising people because of their race, gender or sexuality.

“In a democracy, everyone should be subject to the same laws, with the same rights and responsibilties. Religious rulings should not influence the laws or courts in any way.

“We believe that Muslims and all peoples worldwide should have rights, freedoms and choices, in accordance with the principles of equality and non-discrimination that are enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are not western values. They are international humanitarian values, agreed by the global consensus of the member states of the UN.

“It is wrong to tolerate the denial of human rights to non-white Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, when most of us would never tolerate the denial of these rights to white (and non-white) people in Britain.

“There should be no double standards. No moral or cultural relativism. Defend universal human rights. One law for all,” said Mr Tatchell.

For further information and photos, contact Maryam Namazie onelawforall@gmail.com

Web: www.onelawforall.org.uk

Peter Tatchell

Six gay men murdered in Iraqi slum
By Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk • April 4, 2009

iraqattack

Photo: Iraq Attack by Therion

Two gay men have been found dead in the Baghdad Shiite slum of Sadr City following condemnations of homosexuality by a leading local cleric. It has also emerged today that a further four were murdered in March.

The Shiite cleric Sattar al-Battat has reportedly repeatedly been condemning homosexuality in Friday prayers.

Iraqi police said that the two men were killed on Thursday and that they believed the perpetrators were their family, shamed by their homosexuality. Associated Press report that the police believe this because no one have yet claimed their bodies or called for an investigation.

Last month, Iraqi police found four bodies buried near the slums with the words “pervert” and “puppies” on their chests. “Puppy” being used as derogatory word used to describe gay people in the region.

“When the Mahdi army was in control, such practices were banned, and homosexuals were afraid of declaring their tendencies,” an unnamed official told the Associated Press. But since the Mahdi Army cease fire a coffee shop has apparently become a hangout for gay men.

“Such people have brought shame on Sadr city people,” a colleague of Sattar al-Battat told the news agency. “The blame falls on the security forces who do little to combat this phenomenon or to stop the flow of pornography materials into Iraq.”

“Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, homophobia and the terrorisation of LGBT people has got much worse,” human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wrote on PinkNews.co.uk in February. “The western invasion of Iraq in 2003 ended the tyrannical Baathist dictatorship. But it also destroyed a secular state, created chaos and lawlessness and allowed the flourishing of religious fundamentalism. The result has been an Islamist-inspired homophobic terror campaign against LGBT Iraqis.”

“Queers are being shot dead in their homes, streets and workplaces,” he added. “Even suspected gay children are being murdered. They killers claim to be doing these assassinations at the behest of the ‘democratic’ Iraqi government, in order to eradicate what they see as immoral, un-Islamic behaviour.”

See also: Gays killed in Baghdad as clerics urge clampdown

Iraqi police: 2 gay men killed in Baghdad slum

Iraqi gays killed in Baghdad by tribal members by Therion

See also previous posts:

Support the Iranian People, Oppose Tehran’s Clerical Fascism by Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell says solidarity with the Iranian freedom struggle is non-negotiable, no matter how much the US threatens a military strike

Principled, consistent left-wingers do not base their politics on the unprincipled, inconsistent geo-political manoeuvres of western powers. We stand with the oppressed against their oppressors, regardless of what the west (or anyone else) demands or threatens.

US sabre-rattling against Iran is worrying. A military attack must be resisted. However, opposition to Washington’s war-mongering and neo-imperial designs is no reason for socialists, greens and other progressives to go soft on Tehran.

Iran is an Islamo-fascist state – a clerical form of fascism based on a confluence of Islamic fundamentalism and police state methods. It differs, of course, from traditional European-style fascism, being rooted in religious dogma and autocracy. This makes it no less barbaric. Iran under the ayatollahs has a history of repression that is even bloodier than Franco’s clerical fascist regime in Spain. Sadly, it merits far less outrage by the left.

Tehran’s tyrannical religious state embodies many (though not all) the characteristics of classical fascism: a substantially corporatist political and economic system maintained by a highly centralised repressive state apparatus. This repression includes bans on non-Islamist political parties and free trade unions, and a regime of unfair trials, detention without charge, torture, executions, media censorship, gender apartheid, violent suppression of peaceful protests and strikes, and the persecution of left-wingers, students, feminists, journalists, gay people and religious and ethnic minorities. Even lawyers and human rights defenders – are imprisoned and tortured.

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also pursuing a racist, neo-colonial policy against Iran’s minority nationalities, such as the Arabs (who are abused even more harshly than the Israelis abuse the Palestinians), Kurds and Baluchs.

Full Text

iraqgay

Iraq’s queer underground railroad

A secret network of safe houses and escape routes is saving gay Iraqis from execution by Islamist death squads

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East

The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/25/iraq-gay-rights

In the bad old days of slavery in the United States, there was the “Underground Railroad” – a clandestine network of secret routes and safe houses – which spirited thousands of southern slaves to freedom in the north.

Today, 200 years later in Iraq, a modern version of the underground railroad is saving the lives of gay people who are fleeing Islamist death squads. It is providing safe houses in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, and is smuggling lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to neighbouring countries, where it helps them apply for United Nations humanitarian protection. This secret network, coordinated by Iraqi LGBT exiles in London, is saving dozens of lives.
http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, homophobia and the terrorisation of LGBT people has got much worse. The western invasion of Iraq in 2003 ended the tyrannical Baathist dictatorship. But it also destroyed a secular state, created chaos and lawlessness and allowed the flourishing of religious fundamentalism. The result has been an Islamist-inspired homophobic terror campaign against LGBT Iraqis.

You can watch these two short videos, which show the terror of queer life in “democratic” Iraq here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ajSopj95CU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROUBqSkhO9U

This campaign of terror is sanctioned, some say orchestrated, by Iraq’s leading Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In 2005, he issued a fatwa urging the killing of LGBT people in the “worst, most severe way” possible.
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/sistani.htm

This is the same al-Sistani who was praised by President Bush as a “leading moderate.” The British government concurred. We hosted him for medical treatment. He was anti-Saddam, so the West backed him, even after he issued his murderous religious edicts.

Although the general security situation has improved in Iraq, for LGBT people it has deteriorated sharply. Systematic assassinations of queers are being orchestrated by police and security agents in the Ministry of the Interior, many of whom are former members of the Iranian-backed Badr Corps militia.

Queers are being shot dead in their homes, streets and workplaces. Even suspected
gay children are being murdered.
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/ahmed.htm

The killers claim to be doing these assassinations at the behest of the “democratic” Iraqi government, in order to eradicate what they see as immoral, unIslamic behaviour.

This programme of targeted murders has one aim, according to the death squads: the total eradication of all queers from Iraq. It is, in effect, a form of sexual cleansing. The killers boast that most “sodomites” have already been eliminated.
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/peter_tatchell/2007/03/iraqs_homophobic_terror.html
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/islamistdeathsquadshuntinggayiraqis.htm

The Ministry of the Interior is, of course, a key ministry in the UK and US-backed, government of Iraq. Some democracy! In fact, there is no democracy or human rights at all for Iraqi queers. If the government in Baghdad is not actively encouraging the mass killing of LGBT people, it is definitely allowing rogue police and Islamists to do so.

To protect against this terror and save lives, Iraqi LGBT has created its underground queer railroad, complete with safe houses and escape routes.

“Since establishing the safe houses project in 2006 we have provided refuge for dozens of gay people who were being hunted by death squads,” reports Ali Hili, coordinator of Iraqi LGBT.

“We have also assisted people to escape from Iraq to neighbouring countries, where we have established resettlement projects. Our efforts have got gay refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and we’ve already moved some of them a third safer country, in Europe or North America. These lucky ones are now beginning to rebuild their lives,” said Mr Hili.

K is a 33 year old architect who escaped to Amman in Jordan. He now helps run the Iraqi LGBT support group there; aiding other LGBT refugees from Iraq. So far, seven out of 23 Iraqi LGBT refugees who have been smuggled to Jordan have had their applications for asylum approved by the UNHCR and been able to secure asylum in countries like the United States, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.

This heroic work is not without its risks and sacrifices. Many of the underground activists have been assassinated, in a series of grisly homophobic and transphobic murders:
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/sexualcleansing.htm

Two lesbians who ran the safe house in the city of Najaf were butchered, together with a young boy they had rescued from the sex industry. Last summer, the coordinator of a Baghdad safe house, Bashar, was gunned to death in his local barber’s shop by an Islamist hit squad. Previously, five gay activists who organised another Baghdad safe house were massacred.
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/fivegayactivists.htm

The lack of funds is a perpetual problem. Three of the five safe houses in Baghdad had to close last year because of a lack of donations to keep them running. Two of the houses have since been reopened but it is a constant struggle to fund them. Money is needed to pay rent, electricity and food bills for the 10-12 LGBT refugees who are crammed into each house.

Many more LGBT Iraqis need a place to hide. Don’t let them be killed for want of a safe refuge. Please make a cheque payable to “Iraqi LGBT” and send it to the address on their website, or make a credit card donation via their website PayPal link. See here:

http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com

Help Iraqi LGBT continue its brave, inspiring, life-saving work.

gwb_logo-71

throwncliffBy Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk • February 17, 2009

New plans to widen the definition of who is an extremist in the eyes of the British government could include Muslims who object to homosexuality.

A revised counter-terrorism strategy is to be published next month.

The Guardian reports that a range of beliefs held by many Muslims could be classed as extreme under the new definition, among them the promotion of Sharia law, which punishes homosexuality with the death penalty, advocating a pan-Islamic state or supporting jihad.

The new strategy “would widen the definition of extremists to those who hold views that clash with what the government defines as shared British values,” the paper reports.

“Those who advocate the wider definition say hardline Islamist interpretation of the Qur’an leads to views that are the root cause of the terrorism threat Britain faces.”

An in-depth survey in 2007 into the attitudes of Muslims living in London revealed that less than 5% thought homosexual acts are “acceptable,” compared with more than 65% of the general population.

The previous year Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, was investigated by police over comments he made on BBC radio.

He called homosexuality, “a practice that in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that comes along in a society, it is not acceptable.

“Each of our faiths tells us that it is harmful and, I think, if you look into the scientific evidence that has been available in terms of the forms of various illnesses and diseases that are there, surely it points out that where homosexuality is practised there is a greater concern in that area.”

In September Channel 4 screened Dispatches documentary Undercover Mosque: The Return.

It features a female reporter attending prayer meetings at an important British mosque which claims to be dedicated to moderation and dialogue with other faiths.

She secretly filmed sermons given to the women-only congregation in which female preachers recited extremist and intolerant beliefs.

One preacher called for adulterers, homosexuals, women who act like men and Muslim converts to other faiths to be killed, saying: “Kill him, kill him. You have to kill him, you understand. This is Islam.””

The original January 2007 Undercover Mosque documentary showed preacher Abu Usamah at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham calling for gay people to be executed.

“If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?” he told followers.

A scene also showed a preacher calling for people to “take that homosexual and throw him off a mountain.”

Did the Prophet Muhammad really exist? By Therion

The Prophet Muhammad has been a hot topic for debate in German academic circles lately. The debate isn’t just about the Prophet’s teachings, but about whether or not he even existed.

It is generally believed that the Prophet Muhammad was born in the Arabian Peninsula in 570 AD and that he died in Medina in 632 AD. However some German academics call into question traditionally recognized ‘truths’ about the Prophet, some even going so far as to claim he never existed in the first place.

Der Spiegel recently interviewed Michael Marx, director of the “Corpus Coranicum” project at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.

Der Spiegel : There is a group of prominent German Islamic scholars, who are becoming increasingly aggressive about questioning whether the existence of the Prophet is even historically accurate. The theory got its most recent backing from the University of Münster’s Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch, who is in charge of training teachers for Islamic education at the secondary-school level.

Karl-Heinz Ohlig, is another outspoken academic who has cast doubt on the existence of Muhammad. He takes the view that that the Qur’an was an early Christian text. Marx disagrees with Ohlig’s claim that Muhammad never existed:

Marx : There are far too many pieces of evidence that make Ohlig’s thesis that the Prophet never lived untenable. In the 14 centuries of polemics between Christians and Muslims, this issue has never made an appearance. Even in Syrian-Aramaic sources, however, there is some documentation about the prophet from an earlier time.

Marx stressed that it is difficult to scientifically prove the existence of historical figures – including great leaders such as Charlemagne. He speaks of an “evidentiary thread” and claims that the evidentiary situation offered by the Qur’an is better than for any other religions.

You can link to the full Spiegel interview with Marx here

See also :

Criticism of Islamic Theologian Muhammad Kalisch – Doubt about Muhammad’s Existence Poses Threat to Islamic Religious Education

Sexual cleansing in Iraq

Islamist death squads are hunting down gay Iraqis and summarily executing them

WATCH the video link below – and weep:

By Peter Tatchell
London & Baghdad – 25 September 2008

STOP PRESS: This morning, news came from Iraq that the coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad, Bashar, aged 27, has been assassinated in a barber shop. Militias burst in and sprayed his body with bullets.
The so-called improved security situation in Iraq is not benefiting all Iraqis, especially not gay ones. Islamist death squads are engaged in a homophobic killing spree, with the active encouragement of leading Muslim clerics, such as Moqtada al-Sadr, as Newsweek recently revealed.
http://www.newsweek.com/id/155656
One of these clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Shia Islam, issued a fatwa urging the killing of lesbians and gays in the “worst, most severe way possible.”
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=18202189&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
The short film, Queer Fear – Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq, produced by David Grey for Village Film, documents the tragic fates of a several individual gay Iraqis.

You can view it here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6vbpr

Watch and weep. A truly poignant and moving revelation about the terrorisation and murder of Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Since this film was made, the killings have continued and, many say, got worse.
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/24/gay.iraqis/index.html
For gay Iraqis there is little evidence of the transition to democracy. They don’t experience any new-found respect human rights. Life for them is even worse than under the tyrant Saddam Hussein.
It is a death sentence in today’s “liberated” Iraq to love a person of the same-sex, or for a woman to have sex outside of marriage, or for a Muslim to give up his / her faith or embrace another religion.
The reality on the ground is that theocracy is taking hold of the country, including in Basra, which was abandoned by the British military. In place of foreign occupation, the city’s inhabitants now endure the terror of fundamentalist militias and death squads. Those who are deemed insufficiently devout and pure are liable to be assassinated.
The death squads of the Badr Brigades and the Madhi Army are targeting gays and lesbians, according to UN reports, in a systematic campaign of sexual cleansing. They proudly boast of their success, claiming that they have already exterminated all “perverts and sodomites” in many of the major cities.
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/05/world/fg-iraqgay5
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008100&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008200&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=18605093&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
You can view photos of a few of the LGBT victims of these summary executions here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157600042494571/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72057594087304767/
My friends in Iraq have relayed to me the tragic story of five gay activists, who belonged to the underground movement gay rights movement, Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).
Eye-witnesses confirm that they saw the men being led out of a house at gun-point by officers in police uniform. Yes, Iraqi police! Nothing has been heard of the five victims since then. In all probability, they have been executed by the police – or by Islamist death squads who have infiltrated the Iraqi police and who are using their uniforms to carry out so-called honour killings of gay people, unchaste women and many others.
The arrested and disappeared men were Amjad 27, Rafid 29, Hassan 24, Ayman 19 and Ali 21. As members of Iraq’s covert gay rights movement, for the previous few months they had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, relaying details of the murders to the outside world, and providing safe houses and support to other gay people fleeing the death squads.
Their abduction is just one of many outrages by anti-gay death squads. lslamist killers burst into the home of two lesbians in city of Najaf. They shot them dead, slashed their throats, and also murdered a young child who the women had rescued from the sex trade. The two women, both in their mid-30s, were members of Iraqi LGBT. They were providing a safe house for gay men on the run from death squads. By sheer luck, none of the men who were being given shelter in the house were at home when the assassins struck. They have since fled to Baghdad and are hiding in an Iraqi LGBT safe house there.
Large parts of Iraq are now under the de facto control of the militias and their death squad units. They enforce a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, summarily executing people for what they denounce as “crimes against Islam.” These “crimes” include listening to western pop music, wearing shorts or jeans, drinking alcohol, selling videos, working in a barber’s shop, homosexuality, dancing, having a Sunni name, adultery and, in the case of women, not being veiled or walking in the street unaccompanied by a male relative.
Two militias are doing most of the killing. They are the armed wings of major parties in the Bush and Brown-backed Iraqi government. Madhi is the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, and Badr is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad’s governing coalition. Both militias want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship. The allied occupation of Iraq is bad enough. But if the Madhi or Badr militias gain in influence and strength, as seems likely in the long-term, it could result in a reign of religious terror many times worse.
Saddam Hussein was a bloody tyrant. I campaigned against his blood-stained misrule for nearly 30 years. But while Saddam was President, there was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated in their homes and in the street by religious fanatics.
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008362&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
Since his overthrow, the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is much worse.
http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/2007/08/for-gays-in-iraq-life-of-constant-fear.html
Even children suspected of being gay are abducted and later found shot in the head.
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008362&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
Lesbian and gay Iraqis cannot seek the protection of the police, since the police are heavily infiltrated by fundamentalists, especially the Badr militia. The death squads can kill with impunity. Pro-fundamentalist ministers in the Iraqi government are turning a blind eye to the killings, and helping to protect the killers. Some “liberation”.

* Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help the work of their members in Iraq. Since they don’t yet have a bank account, they request that cheques should be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT.
More information on Iraqi LGBT or to make a donation by PayPal:
http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/

Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
www.greenoxford.com/peter and www.petertatchell.net

See also: UK: Queer Fear 2 – The Sexual Cleansing of Iraq – Film Screening November 3rd 2008

This is a generic event but some people on here that are in London on the Sunday 28th may be interested in coming. The counter demo starts at 1pm at Piccadilly Circus.

Call for Al-Quds Day Counter Demo on Sunday 28th Sept

Islamic Republic sponsored annual march through the streets of London is due on Sunday 28th Sept.
http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3603

To oppose this Islamic Republic propaganda march, we will assemble for a standing counter-demo at Piccadilly Circus at 1:00 PM.

Join us to oppose the Islamic Republic march on this day.

Last year’s Al-Quds march and counter demo:

http://azarmehr.blogspot.com/2007/10/counter-demo-to-al-quds-rally.html

http://azarmehr.blogspot.com/2007/10/some-more-pics-from-al-quds-and-counter.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPaloDmcLYY

Erm before I and others organising the counter demo get denounced for being a stooge of Bush and the US government I would draw attention of people to this little fact.

http://azarmehr.blogspot.com/2008/09/us-embassy-in-london-shopped-arash-to.html

It is not just gay asylum seekers that have trouble with the British and US authorities.

The story had a happy ending and Arash is now out of the detention centre (Arash’s case has not been re heard by the Home Office though).

http://azarmehr.blogspot.com/2008/09/arash-is-released.html

See also: London Al-Quds March: Islamists Slander and Threaten Peter Tatchell