Islamic treatment of homosexuals

"As Muslims, we have a responsibility that goes beyond ourselves, our community, and the ummah to the world as a whole. Concern for humanity, for suffering and ailment, for famines and disaster, for cruelty and hunger is only the first step towards this awareness."

The prostitute Fantine, in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, is rather despicable. She has chopped off and sold her beautiful hair and her two front teeth  in order to provide for the needs of her daughter after being driven away by gossiping tongues from the factory where she once worked and made an honest living. She parades up and down the snowy streets outside a tavern, and becomes an object of amusement for a young man indulging himself in idleness and drink. He makes fun of her appearance, calling out jokes and jibes each time she passes by, but she ignores him. Once beautiful, noble, now abandoned by the father of her child, she has taken to selling her body in order to survive.

The young man decides he doesn't like being ignored, so he grabs up a handful of snow and puts it down her back. Fantine whirls in a rage: she has had quite enough of the world and its wickedness and unfairness. A mighty battle takes place, but it is Fantine who is dragged off to the police station. She is, after all, a prostitute. And it is the landed young man, rich, an idler, born into privilege and plenty, who slinks off into the darkness. No harm will come to him because he's a citizen who has rights and privileges that are not accorded to all. He is part of the status quo; Fantine is not.

Hugo says, "The deepest misery, an opportunity for obscenity."

I think often of Fantine when abuse is hurled at me, when I hear myself called faggot, or pervert, or sodomite, or when I am accused of mental illness, depravity, or when what I am - a homosexual - is deemed disgusting, unnatural, sick.

Just recently I read a story in the newspaper about how the Muslim fundamentalist group Taleban, in Afghanistan, had put two homosexuals to death by collapsing a wall on top of them. A few weeks later, I read another story about the Taleban carrying similar executions of up to half dozen more homosexuals.

The report made mention of the fact that after the wall is collapsed - a traditional Islamic punishment for homosexuality - onlookers wait for a period of 30 minutes and, if the homosexuals are still alive, they are then given medical treatment and sent on their way. No doubt once recovered they are driven from their homes and families and communities in shame and disgrace.

Amnesty International filed a report in early May of 1998 stating that at least five men convicted of sodomy by the Taleban's Shari'a courts had been "placed next to walls by Taleban officials and then buried under the rubble as the walls were toppled upon them." In one such incident, three homosexuals were punished thus while Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar watched along with thousands of spectators. After the 30 minute waiting period, the three men were still alive, but two died the next day. What became of the third is unknown.

Concerning another punishment of two homosexuals, the Taleban's Radio Voice of Shari'a is reported to have said: "Shari'a-prescribed punishment has been administered to two sodomites [in] Herat Province. Bakhtar Information Agency informed us [two men] who had been arrested by security officials on charges of committing sodomy were publicly punished for their deeds in the city of Herat today. The cases of the accused were investigated by the public prosecution office of Herat Province where the accused confessed to their crimes without duress or torture."

Amnesty International weighed in to say: "Taleban Shari'a courts ... reportedly lack the minimum requirements for a fair trial. Judges in these courts, many of whom are virtually untrained in law, reportedly base their judgements on a mixture of their personal understanding of Islamic law and the prevalent Pashtun code of honour. Amnesty International has received reports that such courts often decide a dozen different cases of alleged criminal activity a day, in sessions which may take only a few minutes. There are reportedly no provisions for defendants to be assisted by a legal counsel, the presumption of innocence is dispensed with and verdicts are final, with no mechanism for appropriate judicial appeal. It has been frequently reported that testimonies and statements of convicts accepting their sentences before they are carried out have been extracted under torture. Some convictions appear to have been based solely on the allegations of the complainants."

AFP filed another report stating that Taleban soldiers in Kabul, the capital city, had spent "several hours publicly beating two fellow soldiers they caught having sex." They were then handed over to a military court and will most likely be executed.

But these are only the latest in a long string of crimes committed against homosexuals in the name of the religion of Islam, crimes which often go unreported in the Western press.

According to Wockner News, in September 1994 a gay man from Pakistan was granted asylum in the US because of his home country's persecution of homosexuals. The report noted that Pakistani civil law punishes those who have gay sex with two years in prison, and that Islamic law calls for 100 lashes or death by stoning. The report says the gay man "was expelled from the Pakistani Cricket Association for being gay, and shortly thereafter, he received a letter from the local Lahore Cricket Association dismissing him from the team for being a 'faggot.' That letter was presented as evidence in the U.S. immigration hearing."

In August of 1995, twenty members of OutRage! staged a sit-down demonstration in London's Trafalgar Square in protest of the Islamic group Hizb ut Tahrir, which it says "advocates the murder of Jews and homosexuals." Police broke up the protest. OutRage! spokesman John Jackson was quoted as saying: "Our protest was lesbian and gay self-defense against Islamic fundamentalists who endorse the killing by Iran of an estimated 4,000 homosexuals since 1980, and who threaten and intimidate gay students on college campuses in Britain."

Another British group, War on Want, in March of the following year, launched a campaign called "War on Prejudice," accusing Libya of jailing those caught having homosexual sex for three to five years. That same month, Sweden denied asylum to a gay man from Iran, claiming they didn't believe his story that police had visited his parents and promised to kill him if he ever returned to Iran. Sweden's Federation for Gay and Lesbian Rights was reported to have denounced the deportation while authorities in Denmark granted asylum to a 26 year old man from Armenia because of that country's treatment of homosexuals.

It took the authorities two years to make that decision.

In September of 1996, Wocker News carried a report stating that OutRage! "picketed Saudi dissident Muhammad Al-Mass'ari and Islamic fundamentalist leader Omar Bakri Mohammad during an Islamic rally at Speakers Corner in London's Hyde Park Sept. 8... Omar Bakri responded by calling for extermination of all homosexuals."

In October of 1996, separatists in Chechnya said they would base their legal code on Islamic law, and that gay sex would be banned with punishments of either five years in prison or death. Two months later, in December, Kuwaiti police arrested seven Filipino hairdressers and deported them. The Philippine Embassy quoted a police official as saying, "The presence of gays and their actions cannot be tolerated."

In a first for France, in February of 1997, asylum was granted to a gay man from Algeria on the grounds of sexual orientation. The man had founded Aids and human rights organizations in Algeria and was thus frequently harassed by police, "chased and beaten by Muslims", according to the report.

The World Organization Against Torture, in June of 1997, targeted Pakistan over reports that two gay men caught having sex in a public toilet were whipped. In August, the underground European newspaper Al Djamaa filed a report stating that Algeria's terrorist "Armed Islamic Group" was killing homosexuals, as well as those who do not pray, people who drink alcohol or take drugs, and "immodest or debauched women". One of the group's leaders, Abou el Moundhir, said the "fighters only kill those who deserve to die." Apparently more than 700 had been killed during the previous three months.

The Iranian gay and lesbian human rights group Homan says that since 1980, more than 4,000 Homosexual men and women have been executed by the Iranian government, and provided the following translation of Iranian law concerning homosexuality: "The Islamic Penal Law Against Homosexuals in Iran, approved by the Islamic Consultancy Parliament 08.05.1370 (30.07.1991) and finally ratified by the High Expediency Council on 07.09.1370 (28.11.1991) calls for the following: Article 110: Punishment for sodomy is killing; the Sharia judge decides on how to carry out the killing. Article 129: Punishment for lesbianism is one hundred (100) lashes for each party. Article 131: If the act of lesbianism is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will be issued the fourth time."

They add: "As long as the horrifying Islamic government rules Iran, the most practical gay liberation strategy for Homan is to raise awareness of the dangerous conditions threatening gays and lesbians in Iran through an international campaign. Furthermore Homan encourages international, influential organizations and personalities to speak out, and to press Iranian rulers to remove severe, anti-gay Islamic laws."

OutRage! adds that Muslim militia groups on the Philippine island of Mindanao have been terrorizing Homosexuals, threatening them with castration in an effort to drive them elsewhere. They say Homosexual relationships are banned in many Islamic countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the UAE. Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. In Malaysia, the Homosexual can be put in prison for 20 years.

"The fervor of this modern Muslim extremism echoes the zealotry of the original Dark Ages in mediaeval Europe, when Christian fundamentalists excommunicated philosophers and scientists as heretics, tortured non-believers, drowned women as witches, and burned sodomites at the stake."

OutRage! also filed a report in March of 1996 about the "Islamophobia Conference" which was designed to promote better understanding of Islam in the UK. Noting that while the conference declaration stated that "Islam is wrongly and unjustly portrayed as barbaric, irrational, primitive, sexist, violent and aggressive", when the panel was questioned on Islam's treatment of homosexuals by an OutRage! activist and former Muslim of Pakistani descent named Muhammad, "most of the conference turned on Muhammad. He was surrounded by over a hundred Muslims who screamed abuse and threatened to kill him... None of the Muslim, Christian or Jewish leaders on the platform intervened to calm the situation down. One, Imam Abdul Jalil Sajid, a Muslim cleric and member of the Runnymede Trust, shouted that Muhammad had no need to ask what Muslims thought of homosexuals: all he had to do what look at the audience's reaction. The violent scenes led to the abandonment of the conference."

The Lesbian & Gay Immigration Rights Task force in the US had this to say in January 1988 press release: "Persecution against sexual minorities is a tragically routine  occurrence throughout the world. Consider how in Islamic fundamentalist countries,  homosexuality may be punished by the death penalty; in Russia and China,  homosexuals are subject to electroshock therapy to convert them into heterosexuals;  and in several Latin American countries, death squads hunt and exterminate  homosexuals as part of their "social cleansing" efforts. This persecution goes  unpunished when the government inflicts or condones the abuse or mistreatment.  Without legal redress available, many victims flee to the United States for safety given  the relatively better treatment and rule of law they can find here against such violations."

The report made note of the fact that sexual orientation is now a firm basis for seeking asylum in the US.

One month later, an Iranian judicial official, on the eve of the February 14th anniversary of the fatwa issued by the Iranian government against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, was quoted in an AP report as saying the Indian-born writer must be killed. "'The shedding of this man's blood is obligatory,' said Morteza Moqtadaie, Iran's chief prosecutor. 'Any Muslim who hears an insult to the prophet must kill the person who commits the insult. It is better that those closest to that person try to kill him first.'"

He made his remarks during a Friday sermon.

The executive director for PFLAG, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, Kirsten Kingdon addressed a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on hate crimes in July of 1998, and said, "As a mother of two sons - one gay and one straight - I am painfully aware that our gay family members and friends are more likely to be victims of a hate crime. What parent wants a child to suffer that way? What parent wants to receive a call in the middle of the night, as PFLAG moms and dads do, to hear that their child has been attacked, or even murdered, due to their sexual orientation? Reported anti-gay violence is escalating - more than any other category of hate crimes - and parents like myself live every day with the real fear that it may strike our gay children next.  Many of us as mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles have seen the damage inflicted on our own loved ones who are hated simply for being gay. We know that only some hate crimes are reported because victims are afraid. We know that all too often victims are not taken seriously by law enforcement officers. And we know that all too often attacks are not classified as hate crimes even when the evidence is clear."

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