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Free pass on gay hatred?

Turning a blind eye
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  November 24, 2008

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Outside observers have been quick to criticize any signs of anti-Semitism connected to the new Roxbury mosque. But there has been little or no public comment about the virulent homophobia that can be found within the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) and the Muslim American Society of Boston (MAS-Boston) communities.

BU's Stephen Young surveyed 50 local ISB and MAS-Boston members for a just-published dissertation on the ISB. They were asked on a numerical scale how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statement: "Homosexuals are hardly better than criminals and ought to be severely punished." Rather than rejecting this extremist sentiment, the average response fell in the middle. The Arabs among those surveyed were most likely to agree.

"These things are settled in Islam," says Talal Eid, an imam in Quincy who is considered relatively moderate. "No Muslim group is going to say, 'We are going to teach that it is okay for people to be gay and lesbian.' That is not going to happen."

City Councilor Chuck Turner of Roxbury equates the Koranic defense of homophobia to the Biblical interpretations used by Southerners against blacks — "all that Noah and Ham bullshit, that was a thin veil to justify their racism."

Yet Turner and other local leaders strongly supportive of gay rights — including Mayor Thomas Menino and State Senator Dianne Wilkerson — have said little to condemn the astonishing bigotry that's being taught at the Cambridge ISB, and that might well be expected to find its way into the Roxbury mosque.

These pols further back away from criticizing even what they recognize as wrong. "What right do we have to say to a religion, 'Your practices are not appropriate,' " says Turner, adding that political dialogue is where gay rights should be addressed.

But just as Southern churches' "Noah and Ham bullshit" fueled the success of Jim Crow oppression, fundamentalist religions' sermons against homosexuality have underpinned the recent political juggernaut against gays and lesbians.

Perhaps people would speak up more were they aware of the extent of the gay hatred, examples of which can be found on Web sites like islamonline.net. That Web site is one ISB leaders most frequently point members to for advice on Islamic questions, according to Young and others — and it is full of extraordinary, almost obsessive, condemnation of homosexuality.

Until recently, the top navigational button on the left side of the Web site touted "12 fatwas on homosexuality." Earlier in the year, a site visitor posed a question about beheading homosexuals. In response, the director of the Islamic Center of South Plains, in Lubbock, Texas, posited that, given the deaths from HIV/AIDS, "those promoting this sin are in fact committing a crime against humanity." He concluded that beheading and stoning are not called for; rather, the proper response to sodomy is "the lashing of the perpetrator one hundred times in a public place."

Other Web sites popular among local Muslims offer similar fare. The Fatwa Center at islamweb.net advises that the punishment for gay sex "is to execute the one who commits it." The only disagreement remaining is "on how this execution should be carried out." On another site, the consensus of the imams is that it is proper to put a bag over the homosexual's head and throw him from a cliff; they disagree over what to do next should he survive the fall.

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  Topics: News Features , Culture and Lifestyle, Religion, GLBT Issues,  More more >
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4 Comments / Add Comment

HSzubzda

What!? Muslims are not "tolerant"? Who would have known...

Posted: November 20 2008 at 12:51 PM

billionsandbillions

Riiight... and we all know how the Catholic church is notoriously tolerant of gays.  So suddenly this is worse?

Posted: November 21 2008 at 8:44 AM

aj7945

billions-

There is no claim in this article that this instance of disdain towards the gay community is worse than that of the Catholic church.

Intelligent readers would know that there are many facets of society in this world who display hatred towards the Gay community. I beleive the writer is merely trying to point out that, in Boston and its suburbs (which is what the Boston Phoenix reports on), this issue should not go unoticed: "Outside observers have been quick to criticize any signs of anti-Semitism connected to the new Roxbury mosque. But there has been little or no public comment about the virulent homophobia that can be found within the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) and the Muslim American Society of Boston (MAS-Boston) communities."

Archaic, literal, and malicious interpretations of all religious beliefs and their use to agressively and negatively influence the weak, under-educated, poor, and most importantly the youth are counter-intuitive to the potential positive progression of the human race becoming an accepting and peaceful force in this world.

Posted: November 21 2008 at 3:13 PM

Henry63

Some of you may be inclined to side with Berstein's article on insighting that the ISB in Cambridge teaches intolerance to gays or Jews but before you are quick to judge this article is nothing more than  a vehicle designed to polarize gays into Bersteins own hate-filled agenda.  Before you judge the material know that David Bernstein has ties to a Jewish advocacy islam-hate group that has been proven to spin, lie and defame Muslim Americans in the metro Boston area.  This latest David Berstein article folks is nothing more than a desperate and pathetic attempt at polarizing gays in his cause to aim his own personal hatred towards hard working Muslim Americans living in the Boston area.  The ISBCC project is the latest symbol of attack by Berstein as many like him have tried so desperately to stop with lies and accusations of anti-semitism, homophobia and shady land deals.  Berstein's series of articles have shown a history of spreading hatred, suspicio and fear to polarize you the reader into hating with him.  You've heard the term "misery loves company" and that is the basis for many of David Bersteins articles.  For example, in this article Berstein cites BU's Steven Young survey of ISB & MAS Boston members as equating homosexuality to criminals.  This survey is a FRAUD and never happened!  I contacted ISB and MAS-Boston and both know nothing of the survey mentioned nor can this survey show an credible participation by these members.  If so where are the names David?  Futhermore I attempted many times to contact Steve Young at BU but was declined my request for materials and dates of when this alleged survey took place.  I have been stonewalled at my attempts and to date no materials regarding this survey have been volunteered.  Furthermore, the ISB in Cambrige has had no lectures or teachings even remotely related to the accusations Bernstein makes.  Every Friday the ISB in Cambridge holds a series of lectures on the teachings of the Islamic religion, NOTHING political as Berstein and Young suggests.  Similarly enough one can note that this is an easy sell for those willing to beleive everything they read but in reality much of what David Bernstein has written about this Community and community organization is nothing more than a call to arms to satisfy his own hatred.   Berstein hijacks homophobia and does a poor job of proving his work.  That's the bottom line folks. 

Posted: November 25 2008 at 12:30 PM
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