New Group to support Muslim LBGT people in Italy: a meeting with Moi

August 29, 2013

 

Muslim and gay? Impossible! Transsexual and Muslim? Inconceivable!
These assertions gave life to Moi (Homosexual Muslims in Italy). We talk to Pier Cesare Notaro, the project coordinator.

 

Beyond prejudice, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Muslims are a reality and too often reduced to keeping silent. They, like all human beings, have the right to live and to freely express their sexual identity and religion.

From this notion was born, in 2011, Moi -Muslim Homosexuals in Italy – the first Italian project of media- activism, culture, research and information that aims to be an activist group  for LGBTQ people in religion, culture and family issues. The group is open to Muslim immigrants and those born in Italy but the project aims to be for anyone who believes in respect for all religions and sexual orientation. Moi adheres to Calem – Confederation of European and Muslim associations for LGBTI – and collaborates with MPV -Muslims for progressive values ​​- and – INIMuslim International Network for inclusive Muslims. To learn more we asked some questions to Pier Cesare Notaro, the project coordinator.

How and why did Moi develop?
Our project began with a simple observation: in Italy there was no tool to meet and exchange ideas for the LGBTQ people who are Muslim or from Muslim countries. The invisibility of homosexuals, transgender and queer Muslims was so deep that these people, in the common opinion, did not exist. As just one example, one of the leading gay websites wrote that Islam and homosexuality are thought of as “two concepts that are extreme opposites in nature.” Yet in our group of friends from various corners of the world, there were more gay Muslims. And so it felt natural to us that what was missing was a place where we could say, “We exist…”

How was your movement received in the Muslim community?
If we talk about the more or less institutional level, our project was simply ignored. Aside from an imam who wrote us a letter, we never received a response to our attempts to open a dialogue. The situation is different if we are talking about individuals: on the one hand every now and then we get messages of condemnation, on the other; our site is read and followed by some heterosexual Muslims in our country, especially women.

Interview with Netherlands Muslim Party Leader Henny Kreeft

In an interview with Eren Güvercin, Netherlands Muslim Party (NMP) leader Henny Kreeft discusses his party’s hopes for upcoming elections as well as outlining its key points. “Apart from improving relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and investment in our young people, we also oppose the ban on the burkaas we believe a woman should be able to make a free choice whether she wears one or not” says Kreeft.

Addressing the NMP’s approach to Geert Wilders’ PVV party, Kreeft says, “Firstly, we have to explain that Islam does not equate with war, but that it is about peace, solidarity, family issues – and that Dutch Muslims just want to lead normal lives here, like everybody else. We intend to close the rift between Muslims and non-Muslims and to improve the negative image of Islam. Secondly, we have to invest in our future, and the most important way and probably the only way to do this is to invest in our youth.”

Rotterdam begins memorandum to prevent forced marriages of young girls

The Rotterdam council has begun a trial to prevent girls from being forced into arranged marriages during religious and cultural holiday periods. It is reported that every year, dozens of Dutch girls with Moroccan, Turkish, and Pakistani backgrounds fail to return to the Netherlands after international travels during the holidays. Most of these girls, the council says, are married off in their origin countries without much choice. The council has proposed issuing a declaration in which pupils will be asked to sign indicating whether or not they wish to enter into an arranged marriage. If a pupil is forced against her signed declaration, a school can call the police to begin an investigation. The proposal is borrowed from one in Great Britain, where the initiative has been in practice for some time; if a girl is forced into an arranged marriage, immediate action is taken – the British embassy employs special staff who try to gets the girls back to Britain. While the Netherlands does not have such specialized staff as of yet, the concern over honor-related violence and marriages has been an issue for some time now in Rotterdam, says executive councilor Jantine Kriens. It is believed that dozens of girls are affected each year.