March 18 2013
Two Dutch MPs of Turkish origin have called on more Muslim families to volunteer as foster parents. The comments follow recent unease in Turkey about a lesbian couple fostering a boy born to Muslim parents.
The MPs used social media networks to spread a message asking Islamic parents to “stop taking offence, start taking responsibility”.
The dispute has threatened to take on diplomatic overtones with Turkey. The Dutch couple has raised the boy, now nine, since he was a baby. The commotion began after the boy’s birth mother made an emotional appeal for the boy’s return on television, generating debate in Turkey and coloring an upcoming visit to the Netherlands by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A Turkish parliamentary commission is currently researching the fostering of Muslim children by gay or Christian couples, which they say will lead to them becoming estranged from their cultural background.
20 March 2013
A meeting featuring Khalid Yashin, an anti-gay Islamist preacher, scheduled to be hosted by the University of East London (UEL) last Friday, 15 March, was canceled after lobbying by the UEL LGBT Society and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The meeting was scheduled to be held on the UEL Stratford campus.
Khalid Yashin has previously said that homosexuality and lesbianism are sins and aberrations and has endorsed the execution of gay people. Yahin’s controversial positions and the insistence of the event organizers on gender segregated seating prompted a backlash by university groups and human rights organizations, who claim that such events are contrary to the tolerant university environment.
The UEL student union issued a statement announcing the cancelation of the event, but neither they nor the UEL administration issued a public denunciation of Khalid Yashin’s positions or of his invitation to speak on campus.
For the first time in France a group of 20 Muslims men and women came together to found a collective against the proposed same-sex legislation. The group named ‘Les musulmans pour l’enfance’ (Muslim for childhood) aims to “sensitivise French citizens of Muslim faith of the consequences of the law”.
The group remains unaffiliated with larger French religious authority and puts emphasis on being a citizen initiative. Members criticise that the proposed law on same-sex marriage didn’t take children into account, whose opinion remain outside of the debate. Les musulmans pour l’enfance claims to protect the traditional institution of marriage and has already called for rallies in Paris and other French cities. According to them, French Muslims who oppose same sex marriage do so in line with convictions and not as a move against the French government or its President.
March 1 2013
Habibi Ana, an Amsterdam café which bills itself as a Muslim gay bar, is shutting down March 2 2013. The closure is not due to the club’s demographic or status as a Muslim gay bar but rather due to breaking noise regulations. RNW provides a profile on its history and the role it played in the city’s social landscape. The club opened in 2001, complete with participation in the city’s Gay Pride Parade. Founder Atef Salib explains that he did not feel welcome in Dutch gay bars and wanted to create an establishment for Arab homosexuals with a particular atmosphere. The bar is closing after having broken civic licensing regulations more than three times.
Amongst the many contemporary reformist movements of Islam, one is concerned with the promotion of progressive and inclusive ideals such as gender equality and deals with questions on sexuality, homosexuality and transgender identities. What is called Islamic feminism is a tradition which emerged in Iran as an intellectual movement based on the critical exegesis of the Quran. The movement of Islamic feminists consists of religious women and religious feminists who refuse to be discriminated by their religion. They claim the right to reject bias and unjust interpretations of Islam and are open towards the inclusion and integration of LGBT Muslims.
The recent debate on same sex marriage in France and the institutionalisation of a “French Islam” renders greater importance towards progressive and inclusive interpretations of Islam. As such, reformist movements like that of Islamic feminism might help to eliminate gender bias and sexual discrimination amongst Muslims in France. As the imam of Bordeaux, Tareq Oubrou, recently declared, homosexuality is not condemned by the Quran or the sunna.
Some reformist movements in France have embraced Islamic feminism and the opening of the first inclusive mosque in France which conducts same sex marriages indicates that there are sections amongst the Muslim population that are receptive towards these progressive ideas.
Tareq Oubrou, the imam of Bordeaux, opposes homophobia and the state sanctioned persecution of homosexuals in Muslim majority states. The imam wants to disassociate Islam with homophobia and anti-semetism by calling for more tolerance towards homosexuals in general, as well as homosexual Muslims.
Oubrou states that the practice of homosexuality isn’t approved by the Quran but gay Muslims are still Muslims in their own right. He argues that the seven Muslim majority states the practice of homosexuality with the death penalty base their jurisdiction upon unverified hadiths.
A recent study conducted by the Flemish daily De Morgan in Antwerp and Ghent revealed a high level of Islamophobia and xenophobia amongst young Flames. Accordingly, one in three Flames has a completely negative view on Muslims and almost every fifth participant is correspondingly convinced that many Muslims are criminals. Almost one quarter of the respondents (20%) think Muslims should be prohibited from practicing their religion in Belgium whereas 1/3 hesitated in face of the question.
The study equally reveals a disturbing level of homophobia amongst young Muslims in Belgium: almost half of them reject gay marriage and one quarter considers violence against homosexuals to be well justified. 21% of young Muslim participants approve of the dead penalty for homosexuality in countries where it is still practiced. What the study however also shows is that homophobia is not just widespread amongst Muslims, but also amongst young Flames of whom 1/3 say to be disturbed by the sight of two men kissing.
Young Muslims on the other hand show a higher level of anti-Semitic views: 45% of them agree with the prejudice of “Jews being a dominant social group” or “Jews to incite wars”.
17 December 2012
Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which is an umbrella organization that represents 500 mosques across the UK, has strongly criticized the new government initiative to pass a law which would allow gay marriages to take place in religious establishments. According to the law however it is illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to conduct same-sex weddings.
The MCB statement found the law “utterly discriminatory” as it does not provide a similar exemption for Muslims. Farooq Murad, the Secretary General of the MCB said:
‘We find it incredible that while introducing the bill in the House, culture secretary Maria Miller could keep a straight face when offering exemption for the established Church while in the same breath claiming, “fairness to be at the heart of her proposals”… It is not just the ‘Church of England and Church in Wales’ who “explicitly” stated strong opposition’ as Mrs. Miller says, the Muslim Council of Britain along with most other faith groups also made equally strong representation… no one in their right mind should accept such a discriminatory law. It should be amended to give exactly the same exemption to all the religions.’
Ministers expect the legislation to take up to 12 months to get through Parliament.
Conservative Party MPs, including ministers, will get a free vote amid private fears that at least 40 per cent of Tory MPs oppose the plans. Labour has also granted its backbenchers a free vote, in a surprise move.
photo by Andrew Hodges