LGBTI Muslim group Imaan marching at Waltham Forest Pride. | Photo: Faizan Imaan / Supplied
Imaan is the leading charity for LGBTQI Muslims in the UK.
We provide support for those who are trying to reconcile their sexuality or gender identity with their Islamic faith because we believe that everyone is equal in God’s eyes.
Yesterday (27 July) we were abused by two members of the public at the Waltham Forest Pride march.
One lunged at us through the crowd and shouted at one of us wearing a rainbow niqab: ‘Why are you hiding?’
Another shouted: ‘Why have you got MY God up there?’ while pointing to our placard which stated ‘Allah Loves Diversity’.
The man had to be held back by the Pride stewards.
A few minutes later, a woman in full burqa stood at a shop door screaming at the entire procession: ‘You’re a disease! Shame on you!’
Again, the steward had to intervene. We believe her to be the same woman in the video that is currently being circulated on social media.
Disgusting homophobic abuse at those on Waltham Forest Pride today.
No matter what form hate comes in, we must stamp it out and say no to all forms of hate! Also, very importantly we cannot call out one form of hate but be silent/complicit on others. @GalopUK @stonewalluk pic.twitter.com/kDAFoAb8Vw
— Yusuf Patel (@YusufJP_) July 27, 2019
Imaan: ‘Prejudice cuts both ways’
Sadly, incidents like this from small sections of the Muslim community are increasing.
Imaan is regularly threatened and abused on social media by a vocal minority of young Muslims and we fear that this will escalate to real life encounters like the one we experienced yesterday in Waltham Forest.
However, our challenges are compounded by those who use the actions of an idiotic minority to vilify a global community of over a billion people. Indeed, we received smiles and welcomes from older Muslims on the march route.
Islamophobia is on the rise and the polarized era we’re living in makes extreme views from every quarter headline news.
Incidents like yesterday give ammunition to the racists and Islamaphobes, who we also battle in our fight as an LGBTQI Muslim community.
Sadly, we also have personal experience of Islamophobia and racism from the gay community too – prejudice cuts both ways.
So what can be done?
The only way forward we see is to build support for communities like us that face oppression on multiple fronts.
We need Muslim leaders and mosques to embrace the true diversity of Islam and call for tolerance and kindness towards difference.
We need LBGTQI organizations and venues to stand up to racism in all its forms.
We cannot separate being Muslim from our sexual orientation or gender identity.
Attacks on Muslims harm us too – just as attacks on LGBTQI people harm us. There’s a clear link between the rise in hatred against Muslims and the rise in hate crime against LGBTQI people.
We urge all good and decent people – Muslim, LGBTQI or otherwise – to speak out and support the rights of LGBTQI Muslims to live in dignity and safety.
Follow Imaan on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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