Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight


by Sunny
14th June, 2011 at 2:42 pm    

A group of activists have today sent out a press release welcoming a promise by East London mosque that it will ban homophobic speakers. This is excellent news for two reasons.

First, it shows that a Mosque is willing to listen to the concerns of the wider community in the area that its in, rather than just of Muslims. Second, it shows that debate and negotiation on behalf of activists works better than slagging off people on either side.

East London mosque is influential enough, and I hope this will set a precedent for other mosque around the country to follow (though, don’t bank on it, as there are many Muslim groups with different traditions).

—–
Press release
Gay, Feminist, Humanist and Muslim Activists Welcome Mosque Pledge to Ban Homophobic Speakers

Key Points:

* LGBT, Feminist, Humanist and Muslim activists express their support for the East London Mosque’s significant statement promising to prevent its premises from being used as a platform for homophobic speakers.
* The Mosque’s statement is an important step in building trust and goodwill in the local community.
* We urge the Mosque to publicise its commitment through the local, Asian and religious media.
* We celebrate diversity in the community and stand united with our neighbours against anti-Muslim bigotry and homophobia.

In the Open Letter sent out 7 June regarding the Gay Free Zone case, a number of gay and feminist activists closed by saying:

The East London Mosque claims to have no responsibility over those who speak there. The East London Mosque also claims to be opposed to the ‘gay-free zone’ campaign and homophobia. We demand that the East London Mosque live up to its stated word, take ownership of its platform and stop allowing its premises to be used to promote gay-hate campaigns.

Salman Farsi, Communications Officer from the East London Mosque, speaking to the Guardian (link here) responded by saying:

Any speaker who is believed to have said something homophobic will not be allowed to use our premises, whether that is us organising an event or someone else. As for the condemnation of homophobia, our director has gone on the record on this.

We, the undersigned, welcome the East London Mosque’s statement that they will no longer allow their premises to be used by homophobic speakers and take them at their word. Eliminating a platform for hate in such an influential institution as the East London Mosque is a strong, positive action and will have a very positive effect on both the local gay and Muslim communities.

Hate and division have no place in Tower Hamlets or anywhere else. Extremists, of both the religious and political variety, seek to keep us divided and at each others’ throats. Through this action, the East London Mosque will help to rebuild trust between and within communities and to thwart the attempts of those who would try to play us off against each other.

We request that the East London Mosque make this policy known on its website – and to the Muslim, Asian and East London media – so that the entire community can see their commitment to stopping homophobia and to improving community relations.

We also welcome Mr Farsi’s statement regarding Mr Hasnath’s sentencing: “I can see where the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is coming from. That £100 fine was a slap on the wrist.”

We celebrate East London’s diverse multicultural communities and affirm the need to tackle all intolerance. Both Muslims and LGBT people – especially LGBT Muslims – know the pain of prejudice, discrimination and hate crime. We stand together with our neighbours, united against all hate. Anti-Muslim bigotry and homophobia have no place in our communities.

Signed:
Elly Barnes, Diversity Leader – Stoke Newington School
Julie Bindel, Journalist and Feminist Campaigner
David Bridle, Managing Editor of London’s gay weekly Boyz Magazine
Paul Burston, Author, Journalist, Editor of Time Out’s Gay & Lesbian Section.
Gaby Charing, Chair, Southwark LGBT Network
Nicolas Chinardet, LBGT Activist
Eddie Clarke, Publisher
Darren Cooper, Senior Consultant at Out Now Consulting
Desiree Cooper, International development professional and human rights activist
Tony Fenwick, Co-Chair, Schools Out and LGBT History Month
Faisal Gazi, Software developer, anti-racism activist and blogger
Paul Harfleet, Artist, Founder of The Pansy Project: www.thepansyproject.com
Alex Hopkins, Journalist, Editor; Publisher, Dissident Musings blog
Adam Knowles, Chair, Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association
Colm Howard-Lloyd, Trustee, Pride London
Derek Lennard, IDAHO-UK (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) Coordinator
Mandy McCartin, Artist and Resident of East London
Fiez Mughal, Oral Surgeon, Muslim LGBT advocate & human rights activist & blogger
Mac McDermott, Publisher, HOMOVISIONTV
Kylie Revels, Human Rights Activist
Linda Riley, Managing Director, Square Peg Media, Publishers of g3, Out in the City and Pride London Magazines
Sue Sanders, Co-Chair, Schools Out and LGBT History Month
Paul Shetler, Human Rights Activist, Coordinator of London 2011 Summer of Love Campaign
Ian Sinclair Romanis, Gay Man and Resident of Hackney
Gavin Simpson, Founder, discodamaged.com, London’s alternative gay clubbing and lifestyle site
Patrick Strudwick, Journalist
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Christian Taylor, Journalist: SameSame.com.au and GayTimes Magazine
Adrian Tippetts, Human Rights Campaigner and Journalist
Matthew Todd, Editor, Attitude Magazine
Marco Tranchino, Campaigns Officer, Central London Humanist Group


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Filed in: Muslim,Organisations






37 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://bit.ly/iOwk6c


  2. Clive

    Blogged: : Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://bit.ly/iOwk6c


  3. Nick Hodder

    RT @sunny_hundal: Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together http://t.co/OiYrQN8 –> Excellent news. Let's see others follow suit.


  4. Tariq Al-Olaimy

    RT @RukiyahK: Shock as Muslims and #LGBT activists work together than fight http://bit.ly/iOwk6c


  5. Bindya Solanki

    Blogged: : Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://bit.ly/iOwk6c


  6. Owen Blacker

    Blogged: : Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://bit.ly/iOwk6c


  7. Molly

    Blogged: : Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://bit.ly/iOwk6c


  8. Homintern

    Pickled Politics » Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://fb.me/ZV3a47tO


  9. Homintern

    RT @sunny_hundal: Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://t.co/zOu3Moz


  10. alexis pillay

    @EdisonLornie Muslims & LGBT activists in East London pledge2work together: http://bit.ly/k8Do5v @rainbowuct @tomwburke @Tami_za


  11. Paul Harfleet

    RT @sunny_hundal: Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight http://t.co/lFsY2Be




  1. Optimist — on 14th June, 2011 at 3:06 pm  

    Thank you Sunny for this very timely article.

    “First, it shows that a Mosque is willing to listen to the concerns of the wider community in the area that its in, rather than just of Muslims. Second, it shows that debate and negotiation on behalf of activists works better than slagging off people on either side.”

    Could not agree more !!

  2. Imran — on 14th June, 2011 at 5:05 pm  

    Don’t get too carried away. This is a mosque that has lied before and is probably lying again. Look at the signatories before you go too far.

  3. cjcjc — on 14th June, 2011 at 5:26 pm  

    I have been in touch with one of the signatories.
    They have asked that the ELM put the statement given to the Guardian onto their website.
    Let’s see if they do.

  4. Fiez Mughal — on 14th June, 2011 at 7:20 pm  

    This is great progress, so far. Hopefully ELM and non-Muslims can work together, acknowledge their differences, but fight against all hate.

  5. AbuF — on 14th June, 2011 at 7:47 pm  

    Hopefully ELM and non-Muslims can work together, acknowledge their differences, but fight against all hate.

    Including, one reverently hopes, the misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, explicit support for overseas terrorism, bigotry towards non-Muslims and Muslim minorities and all the other hateful things ELM have been associated with or openly supported over the years.

  6. Imran — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:02 pm  

    AbuF,

    I would agree with you there. The ELM has a record of making all sorts of prgressive statements and then doing exactly the opposite. Unfortunately far too many well meaning people keep giving them the benefit of the doubt which they are certainly not, in terms of their record, entitled to.

  7. skidmarx — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:20 pm  

    Should there be a “rather” in the post title? I’m not criticizing, just trying to help.

  8. Trampolene — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:47 pm  

    “Shock as Muslims and LGBT activists work together than fight”

    Slightly less shock as Pickled Politics, Liberal Conspiracy and the left media for years almost totally ignore the phenomenon of homophobic Islamist preachers and in recent months the Gay Free Zone poster campaign.

    ELM has made such self-exculpatory statements before – e.g. in February this year – and yet the evidence of its hosting of all manner of hate preachers, including soem invited to give the Friday Sermon, are extremely well documented.

    It is a bit of an idictment that of the national press only the Telegraph has reported on this issue, and no practical solidarity whatsoever for LGBT people has been forthcoming from supposedly anti-fascist organisations such as Hope Not Hate and other ‘progressives’.

    Can we at least take it that PP will be paying more attention to this topic in future and to whether ELM (finally) lives up to its words? It would be much appreciated.

  9. Random63 — on 14th June, 2011 at 10:47 pm  

    East London Mosque – Isn’t that where they held a “spot the fag” competition a few years ago?

  10. joe90 — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:44 am  

    having been to east london mosque on a few occasions i would say it is a good facility for the community it welcomes muslims and non muslims alike.

    It’s not a weapons making factory or brain washing school as some of the idiots on here have tried to portray it as.

  11. Cluebot — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:44 am  

    Can we at least take it that PP will be paying more attention to this topic in future and to whether ELM (finally) lives up to its words?

    Don’t hold your breath.

  12. trampolene — on 15th June, 2011 at 1:06 am  

    Joe,

    the evidence of scores of hate preachers appearing at ELM over recent years is a documented fact. Your personal impression over several visits in no way alters that or amounts to any kind of meaningful refutation.

    As for ‘idiots’, you are the one for trying to deny what plenty of people have seen the evidence for. Are you saying Abdul Karim Hattin didn’t play ‘spot the fag’ there? Or just that it doesn’t matter if he did?

  13. cjcjc — on 15th June, 2011 at 8:23 am  

    Perhaps joe90 won the “spot the fag” contest?

  14. Arif — on 15th June, 2011 at 8:24 am  

    This is a more sensitive issue than people want to credit. I think that both the decision and the letter are very good moves, but that both sides need to be careful to build trust slowly rather than show too much pushiness.

    It is too easy for one member of the mosque to say something considered homophobic and for one of the signatories to say something considered islamophobic, and that can be used as a wedge with which to get people lining up defensively instead of working on a mutually beneficial agenda.

    Each side is understandably going to want proof that they really are respected, and going to push the others’ boundaries. I hope they remember to be respectful when asking the other side to treat them respectfully, but even then there are many who don’t realise how provocative and insensitive what they take to be “common sense” sounds to the the other side. So this achievement should not be underestimated and taken for granted.

    I hope the mosque posts the letter and a positive response to it on its website, pointing out respectfully any parts which it feels are unhelpful or may lead to misunderstanding.

  15. Imran — on 15th June, 2011 at 9:20 am  

    Andrew Gilligan has taken the Mosque apart in a recent post, yesterday in fact. I also see that there was only one Muslim name on the list Fiez Mughal. We will have to wait and see but given the history of the ELM and MC saying one thing and doing another I am not holding my breath.

  16. imran — on 15th June, 2011 at 2:01 pm  

    Sunny,

    I emailed you at admin about the death of Mala Sen. Whether or not you got it or not I don’t know. It is a pity that mainstream media have highlighted the death of this remarkable Indian woman but that the most prominent Asian blog in the UK seems to have missed it.

    It really is worth looking at http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries and reading it. A tragedy at the age of sixty three. I had the privilege of meeting her at the time of the publication of Bandit Queen. It is true that Arundati Roy became hostile to Mala but I think that was all made up over the years.

  17. Leon — on 15th June, 2011 at 2:03 pm  

    Faisal Gazi, Software developer, anti-racism activist and blogger

    And former Pickled Politics writer. Well done to Mr G!

  18. HOMINTERN — on 15th June, 2011 at 2:13 pm  

    hi imran – there were three muslim signatories on the original list. since then, several more people have requested their names be added. see http://homintern.posterous.com/gay-feminist-humanist-and-muslim-activists-we# for the fully updated list of names.

  19. Imran — on 15th June, 2011 at 3:12 pm  

    Do the ABM really count in the totality of what we are discussing? They have to be ranked amongst the most liberal and, I am sorry to say this, marginalised of Islamic groups in this country.

    The fact that their spiritual founder gave his name to the Quilliam Foundation speaks volumes. Unfortunately, how ever well meaning the signatories of the document are, the vast majority of Muslims in this country remain a prey to the worst excesses of the more extreme of their co-religionists.

  20. damon — on 15th June, 2011 at 3:20 pm  

    HOMINTERN, a test of ELM’s sincerity could be them actually ever mentioning this. It could be in friday’s sermon. But is it the kind of thing they will talk about in front of several hundred people?
    I can’t see anything about it on their website.
    http://www.eastlondonmosque.org.uk/home

  21. Vic — on 15th June, 2011 at 5:39 pm  

    The title of this article implies an equivalency in anatagonism between Muslims and gay people which is false and insulting.

    The speeches calling for killing, the posters, the physical attacks – these have all come from one side.

    There haven’t been any Muslims beaten up by packs of gay men, no speeches at gay bars on how Muslims should be killed. None of this situation has come about due to the fault of gay people, it is entirely down to a persistent aggressive minority of Muslims, unfortunately including scores of preachers, facilitated by public-funded institutions like the ELM, and whitewashed by politicians and the police.

    And also, as has been pointed out above, largely ignored by much of the left media.

  22. Random63 — on 15th June, 2011 at 8:35 pm  

    “It’s not a weapons making factory or brain washing school as some of the idiots on here have tried to portray it as.”

    Joe90

    Nobody on here has said that the ELM is a weapons making factory. In fact, the only person who used that phrase is you.

  23. fugstar — on 20th June, 2011 at 5:01 pm  

    ive been praying and attendings events in elm for years and havent heard anything homophobic. I associate the place with love and hugs, not preachers of hate as a lot of bloggy human rights bitches are prone to.

    tbh i was ever listening for homophobia, or interested.

    Those for whom its a boundary issue could probably post up loads of youtube and rudeboy chat suggesting differently.

    but for sure ganging up on homosexuals isnt an institutional aim.

    seems like a sensible and disciplined thing to do.

    i remember the total exploitation of shayk qaradawi in london spectacle. total car crash.

  24. Vic — on 20th June, 2011 at 10:27 pm  

    “human rights bitches”

    Hard to keep the ‘love and hugs’ mask up, eh?

    Scores of hate preachers have been documented as speaking at ELM in recent years. I’m not sure what you mean by a ‘boundary issue’.

    “but for sure ganging up on homosexuals isnt an institutional aim.”

    The plentiful evidence suggests otherwise. But evidently, if over several years scores of Christian preachers at one church preached hatred of Muslims, including advocating imprisoning or killing them, you and ELM would presumably be okay with that? Sure you would.

  25. fugstar — on 21st June, 2011 at 12:15 pm  

    I think the problems tend to be generated by external hires. These things arent particularly internally monitored, which will change now.

    I am afraid to say that I think you are playing human-rights-bitch here. Its great that you have a definition of a human being, albeit a fairly provincial one, I am happy for you, but theres really no need to bash people on the head with it. Thats where it gets bitchy rather than reformative or dialogical.

    By boundary issue I mean the idea that there is some threshold of human compatability, defined by white secular-liberal institutions of power. If people do not meet this threshold of humanity, then they are fair game.

    I think its good that a high profile mosque tries to address complaints of discrimination in their own way. I think the letter from the activists ‘suggesting/threatening’ the mosque is interesting too, displays a very ungrounded view of communication and dialogue within the Muslim communities.

    I say give it some time. People of actual good will and experience generally will. Obviously a decision has been made at a senior level to pay more attention to this kind of complaint.

    I remember how in the early days of the anti war movement people were averse to working together, they mostly got along with it.

    Earlier this feeling came up when the nail bomber was doing his thing.

  26. Vic — on 21st June, 2011 at 11:22 pm  

    “By boundary issue I mean the idea that there is some threshold of human compatability, defined by white secular-liberal institutions of power. If people do not meet this threshold of humanity, then they are fair game.”

    They host preachers who advocate killing gay people, and then for you THEY are the victims when they are criticised for this. That says plenty about your warped idea of ‘human rights’. Homophobic people figure right up there, so long as they are Muslims. Gay people themselves… not so much. A little less human, evidently.

    “Its great that you have a definition of a human being, albeit a fairly provincial one, I am happy for you,”

    My definition of human rights is equality, regardless of religion, race, sex or sexuality. Nothing provincial about that.

    “I think the letter from the activists ‘suggesting/threatening’ the mosque is interesting too,”

    No threatening going on. To use the word threat in this context is grotesque. it’s not gay people advocating killing Muslims or advocating Muslim-free zones. There is no equivalence.

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