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Gay-friendly mosque in Paris denounced by imams

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 5th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Called Europe's first gay-friendly mosque, opened on last week in a small room inside the Parisian house of a Buddhist monk, has smashed a taboo in Islam by welcoming transgender and transsexual Muslims. The mosque's founder, French-Algerian gay rights activist and practicing Muslim Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed described it as the first step in breaking ""prejudices in Islam." The mosque has predictably brought forth harsh criticism from local religious leaders.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The new "mosque," located in the eastern suburbs of Paris is not supported by any formal Muslim institution. Many imams in France oppose it, who says it goes "against the spirit of Islam."

Rector of the Grande Mosqueé in Paris, Dalil Boubakeur says that the opening of a new place of prayer for gay Muslims goes against the rules of Islam.

"The mosques that are already there accept everyone so creating one specifically for homosexuals is against the spirit of Islam. Worshippers go to a mosque to worship god, they don't go to demonstrate their sexuality," Boubakeur said. "This is an abuse of the definition of a mosque."

Islam's rules on homosexuality are wholly unambiguous, he says. "Homosexuality is condemned in 13 verses of the Koran. The only sexual relationship that is legitimate is between married men and women", he said. Boubakeur acknowledged that it is against Islam to be homophobic.

Abdallah Zekri, president of an organization which monitors Islamophic attacks for the French Council of Muslims, also criticized the move. "We know that homosexual Muslims exist but opening a mosque (for them) is an aberration," he said.

That's not the only taboo that the prayer room intends to break. The usual rules on separating men from women will also be sidelined.

"It's a radically inclusive mosque, a mosque where people can come as they are," the 35-year-old founder Zahed told Reuters.

Zahed had previously made headlines in April this when he became the first French man to marry another man in a Muslim religious ceremony. "I am sure that if the Prophet Mohamed was still alive, he would marry gay couples," Zahed told reporters.
 
Zahed hopes the prayer room is just the beginning, and he eventually aims to create a cultural center and library.

"This is just the first step in a long-term struggle to deconstruct prejudices within Islam in France," he said in an interview with the BBC.

A handful of gay-friendly mosques currently exist in Canada, South Africa and the United States, Zahed believes his project is breaking new boundaries in France and Europe. His fledgling association, Homosexual Muslims of France, has rapidly expanded since it was set up two years ago, boasting over 300 members.

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