“No, I mean they would kill me.”
There are problems, and then there are problems.
Nicholas Kulish, writing in the New York Times' Berlin Journal, tells us about the lives of gay Muslims in Europe, as seen at a gay dance club in Berlin.
But most of the people filling the dance floor on Saturday at the club SO36 in the Kreuzberg neighborhood were gay, lesbian or bisexual, and of Turkish or Arab background. They were there for the monthly club night known as Gayhane, an all-too-rare opportunity to merge their immigrant cultures and their sexual identities.Well, that's nice. But there are a few harsh realities to be dealt with. Here's how Kulish explains it:
European Muslims, so often portrayed one-dimensionally as rioters, honor killers or terrorists, live diverse lives, most of them trying to get by and to have a good time. That is more difficult if one is both Muslim and gay.
Our friend Nicholas Kulish wants you to know he won't have any of this nasty stereotyping; far be it from the New York Times to portray Muslims - one-dimensionally or otherwise - as honor killers or terrorists. So we learn that
To be a gay man or lesbian with an immigrant background invites trouble here in two very different ways.
“Depending on which part of Berlin I go to, in one I get punched in the mouth because I’m a foreigner and in the other because I’m a queen,” said Fatma Souad, the event’s organizer and master of ceremonies.
And these two things are exactly equal to one another, right? But there's something odd going on here:
But gay men and lesbians from Muslim families say they face extraordinary discrimination at home. A survey of roughly 1,000 young men and women in Berlin, released in September and widely cited in the German press, found much higher levels of homophobia among Turkish youth.
You don't say?
Hatin Sürücü was shot dead at a bus stop in Berlin, Germany, on February 7. The 23-year-old Turkish woman was mourned by the lesbian and gay community, but not by her family. Deutsche Welle reports:
To the people who came to this bleak part of Berlin's Tempelhof district for Tuesday's solemn vigil -- called not by the city's Muslim community but a gay and lesbian organization -- the image of the young woman in a headscarf, a baby in her arms, was familiar from newspapers and television. A few notes at the memorial read, "Hope you get a better deal in your next life," and "Live a life on your own terms."
"It's a scandal," said Ali K, 33. "All Muslims in Berlin should take to the streets to protest." Yasemin, 22, said, "It's horrific. All Hatin was doing was leading her life the way she wanted."
But it was a choice she paid for with her life. On Feb. 7, 23-year-old Hatin Sürücü was gunned down at the aforementioned bus stop. She died on the spot. Shortly afterwards, three of her brothers -- who reportedly had long been threatening her -- were arrested. Investigators suspect it was a so-called "honor killing," given the fact that Sürücü's ultra-conservative Turkish-Kurdish family strongly disapproved of her modern and "un-Islamic" life.
Sürücü grew up in Berlin and was married off at 16 to a cousin in Istanbul. ...
Here's more from the DW article on Hatin Sürücü:
Days after Hatin Sürücü was killed, some male students of Turkish origin at a high school near the scene of the crime reportedly downplayed the act. During a class discussion on the murder, one said, "She (Hatin Sürücü) only had herself to blame," while another remarked "She deserved what she got --the whore lived like a German." The school's director promptly dashed off a letter to parents and students, castigating the students and warning that the school didn’t tolerate incitement against freedom.
Oh, but wait. Silly me. I've gotten distracted. We were talking about the wonderful gay night life in Berlin. Let's get back to Nicholas Kulish. Now where were we? Ah, yes, "... much higher levels of homophobia among Turkish youth."
“These differences are there,” said Bernd Simon, who led the study and is a professor of social psychology at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel. “We can’t deny them. The question is how do we cope with them.”
“The answer is not to replace homophobia with Islamophobia,” he added, pointing out that homophobia is also higher among Russian immigrants and in other, less urban parts of Germany.
Well that certainly is enlightening. "The answer is not to replace homophobia with Islamophobia," the good professor instructs us. Homophobia, islamophobia ... six of one, half a dozen of the other. And we may not know what the answer is (Professor Simon hasn't even attempted to answer his own question) but at least we know what it is not. I feel better already.
But what are those gay Muslims themselves saying?
Kader Balcik, a 22-year-old Turk from Hamburg, said: “For us, for Muslims, it’s extremely difficult. When you’re gay, you’re immediately cut off from the family.”
He had recently moved to Berlin not long after being cut off from his mother because he is bisexual. “A mother who wishes death for her son, what kind of mother is that?” he asked, his eyes momentarily filling with tears.
Hasan, a 21-year-old Arab man, sitting at a table in the club’s quieter adjoining cafe, declined to give his last name, saying: “They would kill me. My brothers would kill me.” Asked if he meant this figuratively, he responded, “No, I mean they would kill me.”
And so, at the end of his 1100-word opus, Nicolas Kulish has his epiphany. Like a sort of reverse Balaam, he wanted to say only nice things about gay life for Muslims in Germany. But reality had other ideas.
Last week, two young lives were snuffed out in Texas.
Yaser Abdel Said, 50, was wanted on a warrant for capital murder after police say he shot the girls Tuesday and left them to die in his taxi, which was found parked in front a hotel in Las Colinas, a suburb north of Dallas. Police said Mr. Said should be considered armed and dangerous.
Friends of Amina Yaser Said, 18, and Sarah Yaser Said, 17, described the girls to the Dallas Morning News as "extremely smart — like geniuses," saying the slain sisters had been enrolled in advanced placement classes and were active in soccer and tennis at suburban Lewisville High School.
While police refused to discuss a possible motive for the crimes, family and friends told reporters that the girls' Westernized lifestyle caused conflict with their Muslim father, who immigrated from Egypt in the 1980s.
This comes on the heels of the murder of Aqsa Parvez in Canada last month.
A 16-year-old girl is dead and her father has been charged with murder after an attack in a Mississauga home.
Aqsa Parvez, a student at Applewood Heights Secondary School, had been on life support in hospital since yesterday morning.
Police went to the family's two-storey home on Longhorn Trail about 8 a.m. yesterday after receiving a 911 call in which a man allegedly claimed to have killed his daughter.
Paramedics found Aqsa with a faint pulse and rushed her to hospital. She was later transferred to a Toronto hospital and placed on life support.
Peel police said this morning that she died overnight.
Friends at the victim’s school said she feared her father and had argued over her desire to shun the hijab, a traditional shoulder-length head scarf worn by females in devout Muslim families.
Here's Phyllis Chesler:
Just yesterday, an Egyptian Arab Muslim father in Dallas, Texas allegedly shot his two beautiful teenage daughters to death because he disapproved of their American-style ways. Their names were Amina and Sarah Said and their father’s name was Abdul Said. The girls looked sassy and full of life; they looked like Dallas teenagers. They were 17 and 18 years old and their friends considered them “geniuses.” Abdul was a taxi driver. (In parts of Europe, taxi drivers are known to aid and abet honor murders).
Perhaps how Amina and Sarah dressed, and how they thought, shamed their father Abdul. He was no longer in control of his women—a mark of shame which provoked his need to kill them. Perhaps their flowering sexuality enraged him because it made him desire them—and from this he concluded that other men might desire them too and if he could not have them, no man could.
The blogs and the local Texas media (the Dallas Morning News) were all over this. Hot Air, Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, were too. The only national coverage of this story was contained in the Washington Times. Why did the national and international media so far shy clear of this story? Perhaps they chose to dig deeper first or maybe they were waiting for an arrest to be made. But one also wonders: Were they afraid of being accused of “Islamophobia” if they reported the truth?
There's that word again. Where is all this islamophobia coming from, anyway? Via Muslims Against Sharia, here's an article in the Yemen Times arguing unironically that there must be violence against women:
This title may sound strange, but it’s actually not just a way to attract readers to the topic because I really do mean what it indicates. Violence is a broad term, especially when used regarding women. In this piece, I want to shed light on those instances where violence against women is a must. ...
Perhaps Abdul Said, fine upstanding chap that he is, was just doing his Islamic duty. We know he was a good Egyptian Muslim; perhaps of the same moral fiber as those Egypt-based internet users who populate my site statistics with searches like "egypt women fuck", "pics of egyption woman for fuck", "egyptian fucking pictures", "fucking girls from egypt", "fucking egyptian girls", and similarly inspiring sentiments. Or perhaps there's some profound cultural and moral value that's being upheld by the sexual harassment of women in Egypt. But I'm digressing again.
And I'm probably being unfair by picking on the Egyptians, so I'll turn now to Irshad Manji, a lesbian Muslim of South Asian background, on Aqsa Parvez:
Aqsa Parvez told friends and adults at her public high school that she feared what her father would do if she stuck by her decision to reject the hijab — the Islamic headscarf. She also said it’s better to live in a shelter than at home.
Nobody listened. Now she’s dead.
Moderate Muslims have warned that we shouldn’t leap to conclusions. Who knows what other dynamics infected her family, spout hijab-hooded mouthpieces on Canadian TV. Not once have I heard these upstanding Muslims say that whatever the “family dynamics,” killing is not a solution. Ever. How’s that for basic morality?
Irshad goes on to make an important point: even "progressive" non-Muslims fall into the trap of confusing the hijab (which Irshad contends is itself of pre-Muslim, tribal origin) with the basic Muslim injunction to "dress modestly".
And this brings us to the idea expressed in the title of Irshad's post - "Covering up the diversity of Muslim women." By refusing to see women in the Muslim world as individuals with hopes, needs, fears, dreams, and faces of their own, the self-styled "progressive" left buys into the notion of women as objects - expressions of an exotic oriental culture more primitive, and yet somehow ineffably wiser, than our own, decadent, materialistic, industrialist Western world.
Times Online reports: Woman artist gets death threats over gay Muslim photos.
THE Dutch were debating the limits of freedom of expression last week after an artist who photographed gay men wearing masks of the prophet Muhammad was forced into hiding and her work removed from a museum exhibit.
Speaking on the telephone from an unspecified location in the Netherlands last week, the artist, an Iranian exile who goes by the pseudonym of Sooreh Hera, said she had been threatened with “execution”. She accused the director of the municipal museum in The Hague of cowardice for caving in to Muslim extremists.
Her story is a reminder of the tensions that have put the Netherlands and other European countries on the front line, sending dozens of people threatened by extremists into hiding since 2004, when a Dutch film-maker was murdered on the street and his collaborator driven into exile. [That's Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for those of you who may need a reminder. - aa]
This leaves Hera, 34, in no doubt that she is in real danger. “They said to me, ‘We’re going to burn you naked or put a bullet in your mouth’,” she said, referring to menacing e-mails.
“They say, ‘Now you are locked in your home and you cannot go out any more’.”
She said that by photographing gay Iranian exiles in masks of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Ali, his son-in-law, she had wanted to expose a “hypocritical” attitude towards homosexuality in countries such as Iran, where men can be hanged for homosexual conduct. ...
I can picture Sooreh Hera patiently explaining the death threats to the Dutch police: "No, I mean they would kill me."
Read the rest at the link. You know, when the words "woman", "artist", "gay", and "death threats" all occur in a single headline, you'd think this would be just the kind of thing the liberal left ought to be on top of. Well ...
Wouter Bos, the deputy prime minister, seemed to take a stand for freedom of speech, saying: “In a democracy, we do not recognise the right not to be insulted.” The left wing de Volkskrant newspaper, by contrast, praised the museum for its “great professionalism” in excising the images.
Gateway Pundit has a roundup; and here's a link to Sooreh Hera.
To worry, as the journalist quoted in the first section above did, about the "one-dimensional" portrayal of terrorists and honor murderers, is to forget the victims. Not merely to forget, but to deliberately blot out of memory. As if it was only the aggressor, and not the victim, who had any reality to begin with. Then one must dance, so to speak, around the reality of violence and fear that rules the lives of so many dissidents, women, and gay people in the Muslim world.
Ironically it's exactly these people - folks like the well-meaning journalist - who help to create the "one-dimensional" picture of Islam, while ignoring the lives of those who sought to reimagine, reinvent, reform, question, rebel against, or abandon Islam entirely.
I am not going to split hairs over whether these atrocities were committed "by Islam", "in the name of Islam", "by extremists who hijacked Islam", or whatever. The common thread is a hatred of joy, creativity, diversity, and life itself. It is a nihilistic desire to reduce the rich flower of the living world to a zero-dimensional state of uniformity and nothingness.
This time last year, Aqsa Parvez and Sarah and Amina Said were active, healthy, determined young women. Now all that's left of them is a collection of pixels on the screen of your computer, and the memories they left behind with those who knew them.
Remember their faces. Remember their names.
Sarah and Amina Said