A Muslim gay rights campaigner has been told he should be executed for being gay.
Sohail Ahmed, the 23-year-old founder of a East London street campaign which combats prejudice, was speaking on the Iain Dale show on LBC Radio on Wednesday when a female caller, also from East London rang in.
The caller, Zainab, had these illuminating comments to make:
“My religion is very clear about what happens to gay people. You know what happens to gay people.”
To which Dale responded:
“Yes we know what happens to gay people in Iran. They are thrown off buildings and killed.”
Zainab then continues: “Yes. I don’t know what the exact punishment is in the Koran for gay people, whether it is death penalty, but I don’t know exactly what it is.”
“So you think the Koran is right?” Dale asked, “All gay people should be put to death?”
“I believe the Koran is the word of God and it hasn’t been changed like the bible”, Zainab concludes.
“You disgust me,” Dale said as he ended the call.
Mr Ahmed had been discussing a “pop-up store” he set up outside Whitechapel Tube Station in East London – home to a large, predominantly Bangladeshi, Muslim community.
He responded to Zainab: “I’m very ambivalent when I hear these discussions because just a few years ago I would have agreed with everything this young lady said. Even though I’m gay myself, I held these same views. I understand where she’s coming from.
“Unfortunately she’s still wrong.”
Listen to the whole conversation here.
Dale later took to his blog to say this:
“If you think the battle for gay equality is won, listen to this shocking call from Zainab, a 22 year old muslim woman who truly believes gay muslims (and presumably all other gays) should, a la Isis, be thrown off the top of buildings and be killed.
I tell her that her parents should be ashamed of themselves for indoctrinating her in this way. I kept my cool but I let her have it in no uncertain terms.
Sohail and his two friends are the heroes of this story. Today they set up a stall outside Whitechapel tube station to tell their fellow Muslims why it’s OK being muslim and gay, Men of true courage.”
Mr Ahmed, along with colleague Ejel Khan, set up the stall on Wednesday with the support of the rights group the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
There too the duo and their supporters were accosted by residents in the area where nearly half the population are Muslim.
Mr Ahmed said the campaign could “change lives”.
“I always feared that Muslims and non-Muslims alike would view me negatively for being both Muslim and gay. I thought that no one would understand me. I wish I had come across something like this during my darkest moments as a young gay Muslim. No one deserves to be alone.”
Mr Khan, 41, said: “Many mosques still don’t acknowledge and support their LGBT worshippers. That needs to change.”