LBGT groups defend Sacranie invitation February 18, 2006Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Islam, Responses.
Hat tip: Islamophobia Watch
A number of groups have co-signed a statement in defence of organisers of the Unite Against Fascism conference after they invited Sir Iqbal Sacranie as a speaker, meeting outrage on the part of Peter Tatchell and his friends.
The signatories include Imaan (formerly Al-Fatiha UK), the head of Stonewall, and various people from the NUS, including Pav Akhtar (“gay Muslim” who heads its Black Students’ Campaign). They state:
We cannot afford to underestimate the mortal threat that growing fascism poses to all of our communities or to be divided in the struggle against it. This means bringing together all those who are threatened by and opposed to fascism within a united anti-fascist framework. Muslim communities are a major target of BNP hate campaigning.
It is a regrettable reality that leading figures of most major religions have reactionary attitudes to homosexuality. We obviously disagree with these views. However we believe all those who oppose the BNP must be engaged with and that in turn can open a dialogue in which we seek to change such views.
We look forward to this dialogue! Sadly, it seems the homosexualist Muslims are even less prepared for this than the mainstream community. I hope that efforts like ours could be part of the solution.
You can read Peter Tachell’s call for the UAF ban on Sacranie here, and comments by Islamophobia Watch here. His co-signatories include Adnan Ali and someone called “Imam Mahmoud Ayaz”. Are we supposed to believe this is an actual imam? I’d like to know more. Is it coincidence that his two names are the first names of two boys executed in Iran?
What strikes me about these frequent outbursts from Tatchell and OutRage is just how badly they miss the point. I mean, the head of the MCB is obviously going to hold negative views about homosexuality. Why obsess on that so unhealthily? It’s not a major issue for Muslims in this country, who, despite their strong principles with regard to family, are largely content to live and let live. I don’t mean that we should be expected just to shut up, but British Muslims and their organisations do not have homosexuality as an issue high on their agenda. Indeed, with so many other pressing issues, we have not had the chance to engage in internal discussion and debate in order to refine our discourse or work out in detail how we should approach this issue.
As Martin Sullivan notes:
Outrage’s intervention is particularly irresponsible, given that the BNP has announced that it intends to turn its campaign in the May local elections into a “referendum on Islam”. Yet Outrage proposes that UAF should exclude from its conference the main organisation of the Muslim communities who are the direct victims of the BNP’s racism. Some might suspect that Outrage are acting as paid agents of the BNP, trying to disrupt the unity of anti-fascist forces in order to assist the Nazis. But that would be unfair. Outrage in fact provide this service to the BNP for free.
So whom should UAF invite, if not Sacranie? The homosexualists suggest three names of “progressive” speakers: “Ziauddin Sardar, Sheikh Dr Muhammad Yusuf or Munira Mirza”. I know Sardar styles himself as a “progressive”, but if I were him, I would dissociate myself urgently and publicly from this dubious honour. Munira Mirza is a researcher in cultural policy at the University of Kent, and wrote earlier this month, in response to the caricatures controversy, that “no matter the price, the principle [of press freedom] must be defended.” I wonder if she actually agrees with her admirers’ campaign against a respected Muslim who stated his opinion on homosexual relationships? An opinion that is very supportable from the Islamic sources, no matter how these “progressives” may detest it?
As for this “Sheikh Dr” chap: he heads up the “progressive and liberal” Interfaith Alliance UK, and will speak at a Tatchell do next month, calling for an “Islamic reformation”. He is also chair of the Council of University Imams, and co-penned a media-stunt letter [the Guardian refers to him as an “Imam”] about “fighting fundamentalism, aggressive proselytism and homophobia”, in defence of what he claims to be the “moderate majority” – moderate we may be, but accepting of homosexuality? No.
According to this notice, Yusuf “trained initially as a medic before studying and qualifying as an imam” – or was that as a philosopher, given that his specialist area is “Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophical Discourse on the Doctrine of the Trinity”? If anyone has further information on this man or his organisations, please do let us know.
Do Tatchell and his followers really think that the Muslim community takes these people seriously? Do they really think that non-Muslims should take them as our representatives? God forbid.