A group of gay Palestinian Americans canceled a planned pride march in East Jerusalem on Friday after one of them was beaten unconscious by a local man who said he was from the Waqf Muslim religious authority.
The beating incident occurred on the same day an Israeli gay pride rally went ahead as scheduled, though without a planned march through city streets. The march had been called off after threats by religious and right-wing opponents to mount huge counterdemonstrations. Only minor violence marred the event. ...
In the East Jerusalem beating, two men -- one wielding a knife -- came looking for the group of gay Palestinian Americans who were staying at the Faisal Hostel near the Damascus Gate of the Old City. One of the assailants identified himself as being from the Waqf, the clerical trust that administers Muslim religious sites in the city.
"I'm pretty terrified right now," said Daoud, an MBA student from Detroit who declined to give his full name. "We left the hostel immediately, but when my friend went back to collect some things, they were waiting for him. They asked if he was with 'the homos' and then started beating him." ...
Daoud said nine gay Palestinian Americans had come to Jerusalem to join the pride march. "Maybe I was just being naive. I heard about the pride rally, and I thought it would be nice for us to do something together as a gay community," he said. "We got a different kind of reception instead."
In America, he said, "you have some tolerance and appreciation and understanding of what it means to be gay and to be a Palestinian. We're discovering the hard way it's not so acceptable here."
I won't adopt the sneering tone I've seen some conservative commentators take toward incidents like this, as if it's all a big joke. But it does speak volumes about the gulf between free societies and repressive ones. I'm glad Daoud wasn't injured more seriously. And I'm glad these guys are waking up to the homophobia that's still rampant and dangerous in the Arab-Muslim world - even if it was a rude awakening.