Australia And The Hateful Muslim Cleric
In the wake of the Orlando shooting where Omar Mateen targeted patrons of gay nightclub Pulse, killing 49 and wounding over 50 more, questions are finally being asked about attitudes towards homosexuality within Muslim communities.
The data alone is incredibly troubling. Staying close to home for just a moment, 100% of British Muslims say that homosexuality is unacceptable. Over half of British Muslims say that it should be criminalised. Attitudes elsewhere in the Muslim world do not make for comforting reading either:
As Jerry Coyne notes over on his website, many mainstream publications are now beginning to wake up to a problem that secular activists and ex-Muslims have been shouting about for some time:
‘Although there are still a few regressive Leftists who can’t bear to utter the word “Islam” in the same sentence as words like “terrorism,” “homophobia,” or “misogyny,” I sense that the previously clueless are beginning to see the connection…’
Of course other stripes of Abrahamic Faith have blood on their hands in this regard, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali notes in the article ‘Islam’s Jihad Against Homosexuals’:
‘That isn’t to say that some people of other faiths and ideologies aren’t hostile to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community. Nor is to say that Islamic extremists don’t target other minorities, in addition to engaging in wholly indiscriminate violence. But it is important to establish why a man like Omar Mateen could be motivated to murder 49 people in a gay nightclub, interrupting the slaughter, as law-enforcement officials reported, to dial 911, proclaim his support for Islamic State and then pray to Allah’.
This brings me to a video that has surfaced of a British born Muslim cleric named Farrokh Sekaleshfar speaking in 2013 at the University of Michigan:
In the clip, this cleric claims that “death is the sentence” for homosexuality in Islam as well as saying “Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now”.
Why is this video topical all of a sudden? Because the same cleric also spoke at an Islamic Center in Sanford, just outside of Orlando in April.
Mr Sekaleshfar was in Australia until very recently, but left of his own accord when it was reported that the Australian authorities would be reviewing his right to be there, given his comments from 2013 being dug up.
According to Sky News, Peter Dutton, Australia’s minister for immigration said “This individual has decided to leave of his own accord last night which we welcome and it will be very difficult if not impossible for him to return back to our country.”
Also, according to the same report:
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Mr Sekaleshfar should never have received a visa in the first place: “Let’s be clear: this government has allowed a visa to be issued to someone with despicable and abhorrent views of gay hate.
“Homophobia of the most violent and vile nature,” he told reporters.
It seems clear that Australia is affirming a zero tolerance policy on such views and that they would remove or refuse entry to anyone espousing them.
Which raises an uncomfortable question for the Australian authorities. Can they show how Mr Sekaleshfar’s ‘vile’ comments are out of step with mainstream tenets of Islam?
Take this from Muhammad, the religion’s founder and prophet for instance:
Given the statistics documented above and the words of Muhammad himself, is ‘death as punishment’ for homosexuality likely or less likely to be a fringe belief? Are we now to believe that conservative, Australian Muslims vocally affirming agreement with their prophet on this matter could find themselves in trouble with the law? How many Muslims would be eager to say Muhammad got it wrong on this point do you think?
It would be helpful to know whether exception was taken to affirming death as the punishment for homosexuality or the ‘let’s get rid of them’ part.
I actually think religious people should be able to tell us exactly what their holy books say, regardless of how hateful and archaic it may be – just so long as they don’t cross the line in calling for others to act on these injunctions (which Sekaleshfar appears to have done).
Banning someone from affirming their beliefs, however abhorrent they may be does not help combat those beliefs, it just pushes them into an underground echo chamber where they can distil into a greater hate – unchecked.
It also removes the opportunity for civil society to publicly challenge and ridicule these views in the full light of day. No hatemonger should be denied the opportunity to have their reputation left in tatters.