By Robert Spencer
In response to San Francisco officials’ self-defeating hostility to AFDI’s jihad truth ads, Pamela Geller devised a brilliant new ad campaign for that city, calling attention to Muslim persecution of gays. Theresa Sparks, the transgender head of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, falsely claimed that Geller was “posting these ads to suggest that all Muslims hate gays,” and declared, according to the San Francisco Examiner, that it’s “actually easier to get insurance for sexual transition procedures in Iran than in America.” And it’s true – but, paradoxically enough, only because Iran is so very hostile to homosexuals.
An Iranian-born filmmaker, Tanaz Eshaghian, pointed out “the pressure felt by gay men and women in Iran to have sexual reassignment surgeries as a means of legitimizing their sexual orientation. As gay individuals, they are committing a crime. As transsexuals, they can exist under Iranian law.”
This is of a piece with the hypocrisy of a society that stations Muslim clerics in brothels, so that the customers can be given a Shi’ite temporary marriage (mut’a) to the employees, thereby avoiding the sins of fornication and adultery. But in reality, Iran’s – and Islam’s – hostility to gays is well-established.
The Qur’an contains numerous condemnations of homosexual activity: “And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, ‘Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.’...And We rained upon them a rain [of stones]. Then see how was the end of the criminals.” (Qur’an 7:80-84)
Muhammad specifies the punishment for this in a hadith: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.’” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4462)
And so one Muslim cleric concluded: “God is very straightforward about this — not we Muslims, not subjective, the Sharia is very clear about it, the punishment for homosexuality, bestiality or anything like that is death. We don’t make any excuses about that, it’s not our law — it’s the Koran.”
So spoke Sheikh Khalid Yasin in 2005. Yasin is an American-born, England-based Islamic preacher who is in great demand all over the U.S. as a speaker on Islamic issues. Yet despite the controversy generated by these views and others, Yasin continues to be an important figure on the Muslim Student Association’s college speaking circuit. Rather than repudiate Yasin’s views, Muslim groups that profess moderation have only sought to limit publicity of his speaking engagements, so as to head off negative criticism. In May 2008, for example, the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, Ohio, a chapter of the Islamic Society of North America, announced that Yasin would be speaking at four local mosques on the day of his first appearance, after an earlier lecture at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, sponsored by Dayton’s Masjid-at-Taqwa, brought publicity to his views on gays and other issues.
If MSA members were to turn to the popular website IslamOnline, one of the primary “go-to” sites for English-speaking Muslims, they would find only confirmation of Yasin’s death sentence on gays. In “Homosexuality Is a Major Sin,” the internationally renowned Al Jazeera and Muslim Brotherhood cleric, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, agrees, saying that homosexuals should be executed. “While such punishments may seem cruel,” he explains, “they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements.”
Another IslamOnline scholar, Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, in “Homosexuality and Lesbianism: Sexual Perversions,” quotes Muhammad: “Whoever you find committing the sin of the people of Lut [that is, Lot, the Biblical prophet who fled Sodom and Gomorrah], kill them, both the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.” Al-Munajjid adds: “That is, if it is done with consent.” Islamic scholars differ on how homosexuals should be executed. In another IslamOnline piece, “Death Fall as Punishment for Homosexuality,’ Sheikh ‘Abdel Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef states, “Some scholars hold the opinion that the homosexual should be thrown from a high building as a punishment for his crime, but other scholars maintain that he should be imprisoned until death….However, if the man survives death fall, the judge has the right to sentence him to death.”
Such views can be and are easily accessed by Muslim students on campuses in the United States. And of course the most famous incident involving Islam’s attitude toward homosexuals occurred on a college campus, Columbia University, in September 2007, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who is featured on one of the new AFDI ads -- declared: “We don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country.”
If Ahmadinejad’s claim was true, it was because his regime and its predecessors had killed them all, or has tried to do so. On July 19, 2005, two teenage boys, Mahmoud Asgari, 14, and Ayaz Marhoni, 16, were hanged in a particularly brutal manner in Iran for, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the crime of homosexual activity – although Iranian officials insisted that the death sentence was for the rape of a third boy. But Asgari and Marhoni were not alone. According to the Iranian gay and lesbian rights group Homan, the Iranian government has put to death an estimated 4,000 homosexuals since 1980. According to Scott Long, director of the Human Rights Watch Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program, Iranians who are suspected of being gay commonly face torture. Hossein Alizadeh of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Iran gays live with “constant fear of execution and persecution and also social stigma associated with homosexuality.”
Legal views on punishment vary. Among the Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhahib), the Hanafi school mandates a severe beating for the first offense, and the death penalty for a repeat offender. The Shafi’i school calls for 100 lashes for an unmarried homosexual, death by stoning for a married one. The Hanbali school requires stoning across the board. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, directed his followers to “kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets it be done to him” (‘Umdat al-Salik, p17.3).
In many areas these words are still heeded. The Islamic Penal Law Against Homosexuals in Iran calls for the death penalty for sodomy and one hundred lashes for lesbianism for the first three offenses, with death for the fourth offense. Homosexuality is a capital offense not only in Iran, but also in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania. In Malaysia, it can draw a twenty-year prison sentence, and is illegal also in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan, among others. In 2003 the Islamic bloc at the UN killed a resolution on human rights for homosexuals by introducing a series of amendments removing all reference to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Disapproving of homosexuality and considering it sinful is one thing; appointing oneself the executor of what one assumes to be the divine wrath is quite another. Everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, regardless of his views on homosexuality, should stand against this religiously sanctioned brutalization and killing, and with Pamela Geller and AFDI.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the
New York Times bestsellers The
Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The
Truth About Muhammad. His upcoming book, Not Peace But A Sword:
The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam, will be available