Orlando LGBTQ club massacre: homophobia is an issue among Muslim communities.

A man called Omar Mateen entered a gay club and massacred 49 people because of their sexual orientation.

Omar Mateen had been investigated by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 and reports said he pledged his allegiance to Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State.
His father said that the act “had nothing to do with religion, and that he got angry when he witnessed a gay couple kiss in front of his family.”
His wife, Sitora Yusifiy, said that Mateen was mentally unstable and would beat her, she claimed that he was bipolar and used steroids. His allegiance to Daesh seems to be baseless, and in 2013, he told his friends he had family connections to al-Qaeda and that he was a member of Hezbollah, the Shia group fighting Daesh in Lebanon and Syria. Obama said that the attack appeared to be “an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been concerned about”. There are no direct links between him and IS.

Many people rushed to write on social media that now Muslims, Arabs, or really, people looking “oriental” will face repercussions from this attack. This is true, but this is erasure of homophobia. It is important to note that this attack will lead to more violence and essentialism, but to quickly speak about one’s own oppression is running away from the subject of homophobia. To say such things as: “In the Middle East, we have everyday a 9/11” brings nothing to the debate. To rush and claim that the attack doesn’t represent Islam is to put the homophobia quickly under a carpet. It’s denying a reality: homophobia and extreme rejection of non-heterosexuals is extreme in the region, the Arab-Muslim world.

This early “but we’re oppressed too” is erasure of homophobia. I am not saying that Muslims should apologise, as many Muslims accept LGBT people, and many Muslims are LGBT themselves. White Americans also don’t have to apologise for the Charleston church massacre, when a white man killed black Americans, because they were black. But we cannot ignore the many posts on social media praising the massacre such as this “caricature” that received over 3000 likes in just two days.

Report this picture by clicking here.

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It is written: “the faggot shouldn’t be killed by bullets but be thrown from the highest place in town”. 3000 people “liked” this post and thought it was a good joke. And of course some commentors criticized the drawer. No community is completely homogenous. I have personally heard half a dozen comments not completely condemning the attack, sometimes people showed content.

The polls done at PEW research in 2013 on homosexuality are still prevalent today. They found that religiosity and opinions have a strong relationships. In other words there is less tolerance for homosexuality in more religious countries.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 11.10.14 AMSome countries are unique such as Brazil or Russia,  Brazil is religious but has a relatively high acceptance of 60%. Russia has a very low score on religiosity but where only 16% think homosexuality should be accepted by society. Russia might have a very low score because of patriarchal nationalism, where the land, the father, the mother, and the traditional family must be sacred. (Study) 

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Omar Mateen was American of Afghan heritage. Here‘s what Fariba Nawa, an American woman of Afghan descent said about homophobia in Afghan American homes.

Most Afghans are almost too tolerant. The homophobes and radicals exist but we refuse to acknowledge them. We look the other way; don’t ask, don’t tell. If Mateen had won an award, we would have claimed him as ours. But now that he’s a mass murderer, he is viewed as an outsider. Disowning him and many others like him allows us to shun the responsibility of confronting our demons.

In many Afghan American homes, homophobia is normal. If a son or daughter is gay, it’s a well-kept secret, one that could ruin the family name if it’s revealed.

Several of my friends are gay but scared to come out — they fear dishonoring their families or being beaten or ostracized by them. One of my high school friends in Fremont was hospitalized after a group of Afghan American men found out he was gay. I never saw my friend again.

Omar Mateen seemed to be gay himself, he visited the club called Pulse several times before the massacre and a had gay app on his phone. A former classmate believed he was gay but didn’t come out. Mateen was a G4S security guard and selfies of him with the NYPD (New York Police Department) shirts appeared online. If Omar Mateen was raised up differently, had another context, felt accepted within his own community, he may have acted differently. If he wasn’t so stuck between patriarchy and community religion pressure and himself. Omar Mateen may have been different. An oppressor, especially those who want to erase what he hates, shouldn’t be talked to, but the context should be understood. LGBT people don’t have to talk to people who want to erase them or to the people who are silent regarding homophobia if they don’t want to.

Muslims of USA and the world don’t need to condemn the attacks, they already did it, they don’t need to claim #notInMyName and feed the imperialist and orientalist essentialism. But they need to discuss homophobia and find a way to beat it down.

And most importantly we need to call this attack an attack on LGBT, the worst attack since WW2. We cannot claim this is an attack on freedom ONLY and downplay the homophobia.

Owen Jones, a gay English journalist said it better on Guardian newspaper.

This isn’t about LGBT people taking ownership of the pain and anguish. […] But this was a deliberate attack on a LGBT venue and LGBT people. […] Omar Mateen could have chosen many clubs, full of people laughing and living, but he chose a LGBT venue. This was homophobia as well as terrorism. It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened.


Read more here: The Muslim Silence on Gay Rights: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/13/opinion/the-muslim-silence-on-gay-rights.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Gay and Religious: Stuck Between Ashura and Pride.

This post was originally written by A.I. on his blog here and has been republished on Levant Chronicles with the writer’s permission.  You can follow the writer on Twitter. @Fairuzist 

(Feel free to listen to Shim El Yasmine while reading this, it’s what I did writing it)

I have a love-hate relationship with Shim El Yasmine by Mashrou’ Lelia. It’s one of my favourites but at the same time it’s often played at the start of my self-hating sessions at 2 am. As it plays I often imagine myself laying in bed with a guy my age, covered from the waist down with a white blanket. He’s got tan skin, a nice scruff and messy hair. It’s 10 am, on a weekend in an apartment over looking some part of Beirut. And I’m laying there my head against his bare chest listening to his soft heart beat while he runs his hand through my hair and down my back. It seems nice. I feel like there’s a sense of safety there. I imagine breathing him in, kissing his scruff, his neck, his bare torso and making it all the way down and taking him in. This is what Shim El Yismine brings up in me. Not sex. But a life with a guy I love. A happy life where I feel loved and wanted with him. Maybe adopt a kid with him. I feel like we’d name him Mahdi. After I’ve had the song on repeat, I decide there’s no point in agonizing myself with fantasies, I shut down Itunes and finish my assignments to get through, yet another day. After all, what is it they say? Don’t sacrifice heaven for this world? They want us to die everyday in this world for an ending that may not even be there. It’s a joke.

It took me several years to come to terms with the fact that I was gay. Those years were scattered with days where I would lay in my bed at night crying because I didn’t feel right. Days where i would pray to god to just make me feel something towards girls. Anything. But god never replied. So for the longest time, I felt alone. Even with all the gay scene going on in the West across the net. I was never able to find someone from home I could somewhat relate to. Recently, however, on twitter I came across a bunch of queer people from back home. While I don’t know any of them personally, after growing up feeling so alone, it was nice to find someone similar. Ironically, I also follow people who are somewhat religious. Though for the sake of my own sanity, they’re limited to 1 or 2. You find that religious and queer people are often distributed to either end of the spectrum in terms of religion.

You have the religious folk, who on a constant basis shame your existence, call you slurs, degrade you and proudly flaunt their homophobia. Even though I can almost guarantee their brother is gay or their cousin is a lesbian. But what do I know. And then to the other side of the spectrum, the LGBQT+ folk. Queer people, from what I’ve noticed at least, often either hold religion to a minimal value or have quit completely. I both understand and envy their courage. And I find myself unable to relate completely to either of them. I’m stuck in the middle. Between those who commemorate Ashura, an event remembering the sacrifice of the prophet’s family and those who celebrate their queerness with pride. I feel I should reinforce that I’m talking about religious or queer people from back home. Lebanon and the Arab world.

Being able to comfortably look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re gay is relieving. Finally feeling genuine support for the LGBQT+ community was freeing. How could you not when you know that those people have struggled the same way you did. However, my support for the queer community is limited. My support is there for everyone except myself. You don’t need to be a genius to guess why. Religion has always been restrictive. And people have often said ‘just leave’. And I wish I could. I really do.

During one of those crappy days during which I feel like dying, I often question god’s existence. Why would he reveal himself through the prophets and miracles to our ancestors but not us? Why could our ancestors get proof but we were supposed to have blind faith? I never found an answer. But as I was looking it up, I came across an answer which stated that proof of god differs between people. There are people who have blind faith. There are also those who reflect off of things to find proof of his existence. Growing up shia, I find god’s existence in Ashura. I have listened and cried over the sacrifice of the prophet’s family. And I see god in their actions. I see god in their faith. It reaffirms my belief in god because it raises a question that how could someone be so willing to die and send his family to a fatal fate if they weren’t certain of his existence and the path he supposedly drew for them.

So here I am stuck. Because in the days where I would think of pressing my body against another guy or feeling his lips against mine, religion constantly nags at you and entraps you in a vicious cycle. Religious verses flow through your head reminding you of the fire and torture you’ll endure on judgment day for a fucking kiss. It’s a vicious cycle being gay and religious. He makes you gay, and isolates you. He reminds you that you’ll go to hell if you act on how he himself created you. And the build up of being depressed and isolated increases more and more. And when you get to a point where you just want to die, where you contemplate suicide on a daily basis. He comes back and tells you once more you’ll go to hell if you do it. You’ll go to hell for every fucking thing you do. It’s a fucking vicious cycle that I can’t escape. All because I have genuine faith. Faith that sometimes makes me sick. While Hamed sings Shim El Yasmine for an ex-partner, for me it represents someone I will never get to be with. Because I would have wished for there to be someone I can be with and keep close. For me to introduce him to my parents. To cook for him, and clean for him and raise his kids. But he’s somewhere off limits and so am I. And I hope someday, this isn’t the case anymore.

If you actually took the time to read this. Thank you.
If you’re queer and surpassed the point where you care about god and religion. I envy you. And I’m happy for you.
And in case you’re like me, I hope we find a way out of this crushing sensation.
If you’re homophobic then I hope this helps you understand our struggle.

Chapel Hill Shooting : An atheist terrorist murders three innocent Muslims.

Hours ago, three Muslims college Student have been shot dead “execution-style” by a man in the USA. The newspapers in US didn’t give any attention to this or very little. I learned the story like many, on Twitter. Here is a picture of them.

A lot of people on Twitter like the profile @WeTeachlifeSir_ have condemned the US newspapers of no coverage, not outrage about this hate murder.

As you can see on those pictures, no story about the victims, no words. It seems the “People” news are more important than this.

Is this a double-standard from those newspapers ?

Let’s imagine another scenario ; one when a so-called Muslim extremist kills three young innocent white persons. Do you really imagine that no news will break out the minute it happens ? Do you really think that all of the media outlets will shut up about this for so long ? I condemn those who think and show that the blood of three innocent Muslims killed cowardly is lighter than the blood of three innocent Christians killed by a so called “Islamists”. I’m not making this about religion, but there is a clear fact out here : those murders are not BREAKING newsworthy because the killer is not a “terrorist”.

But is he not a terrorist ?

Twitter (again) showed who really was this killer, the images he posted on Facebook before the executions or even his wish list on Amazon that contained scopes of snipers and camouflage outfits. His name is Craig Hist and he will be of course in the eyes of the “good” Media : a single lone wolf or a “deranged person”. He will never be called out a terrorist… because he’s white.

Here are some of his views exposed on his Facebook Personal Page.

It is clear that Craig Hist is full of prejudice and hate, he is an atheist who believe he has the right to retaliate and insult religion it if he’s been insulted. Of course he means by religion here Islam.
I wonder how Craig Hist was insulted from those three Muslims. Was it the Hijab ? Was it the fact that they were peaceful Muslims and he didn’t like it ? Here’s the twitter profile of one of the victims, Deah Barakat. Did Craig Hist take a look at this? Did he see the multiple retweets of funny vines ? The posts about his passion for American football ? Maybe he got insulted because of Barakat cover picture showing al Quds Mosque? Or did he even see that Barakat called for donation for Syrian refugees ? How dangerous and insulting is Barakat !

Remember Bill Maher lame claim that Islam is a violent religion ? Should we say that Atheism is a violent non-religion ? No we will not. Why ? First, violence has no religion (the irony) and two, we actually have brains.

What’s terrorism ?

It’s “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” I don’t see where in this definition a terrorist must be an Arab or a Muslim. Answer is, he must not. Terrorism can be applied to everybody. It is not limited to organisations, even “lone wolves” can be called terrorists. So let’s call Craig Hist what he really is : a terrorist.

When you kill innocent Muslims because you are an Islamophobe. It is terrorism.