Gay journalist Johann Hari calls for open debate on ‘Muslim homophobia’
There should be an open discussion on homophobia amongst Muslims, gay journalist Johann Hari says.
The Independent columnist lives in east London, close to where anti-gay stickers were plastered around streets earlier this month.
“It is because East London has the highest Muslim population in Britain, and we have allowed a fanatically intolerant attitude towards gay people to incubate there, in the name of ‘tolerance’.”
Referring to a recent Gallup poll, he wrote: “No, Muslims are not the only homophobes among us. But the gap between them and the rest is startling. It’s zero per cent of British Muslims vs 58 per cent of other Brits who say we are ‘acceptable’.”
Mr Hari suggested that “solidarity” and sympathy among LGBT people for another minority group had led to “silence” on the issue.
He wrote: “It is true that British Muslims are themselves frequently the victims of bigotry. They are often harassed by the police, denied jobs, and abused in the street, and they are forced to watch as our government senselessly incinerates many Muslims abroad. (I have written many articles detailing and deploring these ugly facts.)
“So gay people are naturally reluctant to pile in onto minority who are being oppressed. We are rightly sympathetic. We know what it is like to be treated like this. We instinctively respond with solidarity, not suspicion.”
He urged for the support and funding of Muslim groups which do advocate LGBT equality, such as Imaan and British Muslims for Secular Democracy
Schools in Muslim areas should also be forced to teach that homosexuality is natural and harmless, he wrote.
“They know that many parents will go crazy,” he wrote. “Tough. It should be a legal requirement, tightly policed by Ofsted, and any school that refuses should be shut down.”
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The stickers around London’s East End were first reported by PinkNews.co.uk.
Following the report, the Muslim Council of Britain and the East London Mosque condemned them.
Dilwar Khan, director of the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre, said: “We stand together with our fellow citizens against all forms of hatred, including homophobia.
“We are committed to building strong and cohesive communities in Tower Hamlets, and our strength is that we will not let incidents of hate divide us.”
The Muslim Council of Britain said it “[stands] firm against discrimination and violence against any people”.
It added: “These stickers are wrong and not in keeping with our Islamic teaching to respect our neighbours.”