2 min read

The founder of Europe’s first inclusive mosque has spoken out overnight and suggested that being gay and Muslim is like “trying to decide whether to cut off one arm, or the other.”

Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Dr Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed said that being gay “is not sin” but that the rejection of LGBT Muslims is “modern and new in Islam”.

“It has to do with colonisation, complexes and the fact that Arab Muslim societies are in turmoil and are looking for very macho identities to push forward,” he explained to The Evening Standard in a video interview.

Dr and Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed - The Evening Standard
Dr Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed – The Evening Standard

“But it has nothing to do with Islam as spirituality because our tradition is much more peaceful in terms of dealing with sexuality and gender identity.”

Zahed explained that in setting up the inclusive mosque in France the response has been a lot more positive than they expected.

“We had many people telling us we are dirtying up Islam, but we had many more people telling us ‘you are the true Islam’”.

Dominic Arnall, who works for the London LGBT rights charity Stonewall, believes events such as February’s LGBT History Month celebrating religion means the future looks bright for gay people of faith.

“There are a number of excellent groups springing up, based here in London, all of which are specifically seeking to support LGBT people of faith,” said Arnall.

During the video interview, The Evening Standard also interviewed a London blogger about living and working in London as a Muslim.

“Growing up gay and Muslim in London is a little bit tricky, but I actually do not think there is a better place to do it – I feel quite open and free here,” Asad Dhunna said.

“What needs to change in the future is more people having the confidence to speak up and more people thinking it is okay to be gay and Muslim.

Blogger Asad Dhunna - The Evening Standard
Blogger Asad Dhunna – The Evening Standard

“If you grow up in a traditionally Muslim area, let’s say East London for example, and you are coming out, it can be quite difficult because you might pop along to Shoreditch or over into Soho and you see a completely different world, then go home and think ‘how do I even begin to put this together?’”

Dhunna praised initiatives in the capital such as Inclusive Mosque, which is currently seeking to establish a space in London for gay Muslims to pray.

“That is one of the great things about this city – I cannot imagine somewhere else where you could go ‘hey, let’s make a mosque where everyone can pray’.”

Last Updated on Feb 29, 2016

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