“I was born into a practising and very devout Muslim family in East London. My mother wears the niqab and my father keeps a long beard. Both my parents are fundamentalist Salafi-Wahhabi Muslims. I was brought up in a household where music and TV were not allowed. I was taught …Read More »
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.”Read More »
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Police have warned of a “backlash” after it was revealed that Channel 4 will air a documentary about Britain’s Muslim gay scene.
It comes after well-known Pakistani-origin drag queen and activist Asif Quraishi – who goes by the stage name Asifa Lahore and who is featured in the documentary – said he was concerned about reaction to the show, which is titled ‘Muslim Drag Queens’.
Quraishi is one of the most prominent LGBT rights activists within the British Asian community and has previously received death threats for his work.
He said police have already put in place “measures” to ensure his safety once the show is broadcast next Monday.
‘Muslim Drag Queens’ is voiced by the legendary actor and gay rights activist Sir Ian McKellen who has praised Ms Lahore and other members of the “Gaysian” community for their bravery in telling their stories.
Sir Ian said the film was surprised by the scale of the prejudice against gay Asians that exists in Britain today.
“I’m ashamed how little I know about drag and trans and areas of being gay that I’ve not been part of,” he said. “It makes me begin to understand what it was like 20 or 30 years ago about simply being gay.”
Quraishi - who spoke about his struggles and triumphs in an interview with the UKAsian last year – has sparked outrage within Britain’s Muslim community for his outspoken views.
He has been particularly vocal against those who insist that homosexuality is against Islam.
'Muslim Drag Queens' is part of Channel 4's award-winning First Cut strand.
The film delves into the largely secretive gay Asian community in the UK through the eyes of three gay drag queens.
32-year-old Asif Quraishi is Britain’s first out and proud Muslim drag queen. Performing as his glamourous alter ego Asifa Lahore he has established himself as a leading figure within the Gaysian community, and as an activist for gay rights. Born to conservative British Pakistani parents, his choice to perform and out himself so publically has strained relations within his own family and triggered death threats against both himself and his parents. Unbowed, he uses his very visibility to campaign and challenge perceptions: “Up until now, people in my community have chosen to be invisible,” he explains. The epitome of glamour, Asifa appears on stage in sequins, ruffles, saris and cocktail dresses and in a calculated move to provoke reaction and debate – a burqa.
28-year-old British Pakistani Imran has been using drag for six years, creating a female alter ego Zareena Khan. Single and searching for love, he has profiles on a number of dating apps and social media sites, but has discovered he attracts more interest as Zareena. Men in both Britain and Pakistan respond to his online profiles – often married men who he believes find it more acceptable to sleep with him because he dresses as a woman.
Ibrahim, a 22 year-old Mauritian, is studying for a degree in the UK. He recently came out to his family who surprised him with their unconditional support. Since arriving in the UK he has immersed himself in the Gaysian scene and wants to start performing drag. Having discovered Asifa Lahore online he seeks out Asif for advice and support. Despite his passion to perform, Ibrahim sometimes struggles to reconcile drag with his devout religion.
'Muslim Drag Queens' is said to have been partly inspired by a Guardian documentary about the Muslim gay community by Kieren Yates.Read More »
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Parts of London came to a standstill late last month as the annual PRIDE parade returned to the British capital. Thousands flocked to the streets either participate or to watch those marching and fighting on for the human right to safely be one’s self. The PRIDE march symbolises that there …Read More »