An imam in Sarajevo, Bosnia has thanked God and coronavirus for canceling the city’s Pride march this month.
Sarajevo’s second ever Pride was due to take place on 23 August. However, organizers cancelled it last week as the Bosnia and Herzegovina capital has seen a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last six weeks.
Muhamed ef Velic, imam of the Ottoman-era Ferhadija mosque in the historic centre of Sarajevo, responded to the cancellation on Facebook (translated):
‘The media reports that the gay parade in Sarajevo has been postponed because of coronavirus.
‘In every accident and tragedy – there is also a grain of happiness, goodness and beauty.
Thanks to Allah for everything.
‘May dear Allah grant so that corona and gay parade will never return to our city and country! Amen!’
Velic has 73,000 followers on Facebook and his post generated 78 comments – mostly saying ‘amen’.
However, not everyone agreed. One reply pointed out: ‘Even in the Islamic religious community, there are gay people, because… their percent among the citizenship is about 10%.’ She went on to say people should not judge.
Pride in Sarajevo
Meanwhile the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the IZ BiH, appears to wish to distance themselves from Velic’s post.
A spokesman told Eurasiareview it had no comment on his remarks. However, it did say that homosexuality goes against Islamic beliefs and teaching, but that believers should also refrain from any violence against such ‘sinners’.
It is not the first time Velic has attempted to bring a religious dimension to the coronavirus pandemic. In January, he commented that COVID-19 was God’s way of punishing China for its harsh treatment of Muslim Uighurs.
Meanwhile Sarajevo Pride organizers have said they will hold alternative events to mark Pride.
Last year’s Pride went ahead with around 2,000 participants despite strong opposition. A large security presence surrounded the march.
By contrast, this year’s proposed festival has attracted far less controversy.
Organizers have cancelled at least 450 major Prides around the world this year. However, virtual events like GSN’s Digital Pride are recreating the spirit of Pride in new and innovative ways.