Being gay and Muslim

2012-07-23 14:34
AFP

AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Paris - A newlywed homosexual Frenchman is on a mission to prove that "being gay and Muslim is possible" after feeling forced for years to choose between his religion and sexuality.

It took Algerian-born Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, aged 35, two decades to come to terms with himself, but now that he's at peace he's made it his goal to fight Islamophobia and homophobia.

His call comes at a time when France, home to Europe's largest Muslim community, is warming up to gay marriage.

New Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who took over after the Socialist victory in June elections ousted their conservative predecessors, promised this month to offer marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples "in the first quarter of 2013".

Zahed, a PhD student in religious anthropology, married his fellow Muslim partner in South Africa, the continent's only country to recognise same-sex unions. Becoming a spokesperson for the community was a long time in the making, a product of much soul-searching.

"I think homosexuality, whatever one says, is not a choice," he wrote in his memoir Le Coran et la chair or The Koran and the Flesh, published in March.

'Strictly prohibited'


"And you'd have to be crazy to choose to be homosexual when you come from my socio-cultural background."

Homosexuality is considered a criminal offence in most Arab states and is "strictly prohibited" by Islam, said Abdallah Zekri, a member of the French Council of the Muslim Faith which acts as an official interlocutor with the French state.

"No imam, unless self-proclaimed, can officiate a gay wedding," he said.

But that did not stop Zahed from following up his 2011 South African nuptials with a symbolic religious "marriage" officiated by an imam in the Paris suburbs this year.

Although associations for the gay faithful - like David et Jonathan for Christians and Beit Haverim for Jews - have been around for decades in France, until recently there was no group for Muslim gays.

In 2010, Zahed founded Homosexual Muslims in France (HM2F), which counts 270 members.

Refuge in religion

"To be gay and Muslim is possible," the bespectacled Zahed wrote in his book. "However the road is still long."

Born in Algeria and raised in a poor neighbourhood of the 17th district in Paris, Zahed displayed early effeminate tendencies, prompting regular beatings from a brother who hoped it would "teach me to be a man".

His father, who sensed Zahed was gay, repeatedly told him he'd prefer to "break my back and bury me alive rather than see me become like that", Zahed said.

Finding refuge in religion, Zahed paid regular visits to Salafists, Muslims who advocate a strict interpretation of Islamic law, when on holiday in Algeria.

But as an adult, his homosexuality bubbled up to the surface. With the sexuality strongly frowned upon by his community, Zahed experienced "great suffering".

"I told myself, 'you must choose' and I violently rejected Islam," he said. "A long spiritual void" followed amid years of unhappiness.

Aids activist


When he came out to his family, his father accepted it, but his mother cried every night for two months and he fell out with his brother.

The turning point came when he was 30 years old: "I no longer looked to hate anyone for anything, but simply to change the discriminatory reactions facing me," he wrote in his book.

In 2011, Zekri, who is also an Aids activist and has written about himself being HIV positive, met his future husband in South Africa, where they tied the knot in a civil wedding that year.

Gay culture has flourished there since the fall of apartheid - which harshly penalised homosexuality - in 1994, when South Africa enshrined equal rights in its constitution and allowed same-sex couples to marry and adopt.

Other African nations sentence homosexuals to prison, as in Morocco, where homosexuality is punishable by six months to three years in prison, though it's tolerated provided practitioners don't flaunt their difference.

When the pair wed again in a religious ceremony in the Paris suburbs in February, it was a symbolic step that won them threats and insults.

"Visibility is a sensitive issue," Zahed said.

Read more on:    france  |  religion  |  gay rights
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Man killed in KZN crash

2014-08-16 17:26
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
19 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Power and leadership are emphasized today. It is important to strategize and delegate well otherwise you may end up with too much...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.