Berlin Mosque to Host “Islam and Homophobia” Panel

Update: Şehitlik Mosque in Berlin has released a press statement to withdraw from hosting the panel on November 24, as reported elsewhere by Yeni Akit.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Muslims and gays can live together freely”, KaosGL.org, 12 November 2014, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=17923

Şehitlik Mosque in Berlin will open its doors to gays for a visit and a panel on “Islam and Homophobia” on November 24. Organized by the gay organizations Völklinger Kreis e.V., Leadership Berlin, LSVD (The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany) Berlin-Brandenburg, the event will focus on prejudices on spirituality and sexuality.

Sehitlik Camii, Berlin. Source: http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/30900412#map=15/52.4814/13.4096&layers=H

Sehitlik Camii, Berlin. Source: OpenStreetMap Contributors.

Völklinger Kreis e.V. Board Member Daniel Philipp Worat talked to kaosGL.org about panel.

What does an anti-discrimination panel titled “Islam and Homophobia” mean to Berlin?

I have been living here in Berlin since 2007. Berlin is a city of diversity in many regards. We have so many cultures here, so many types of religions, so many companies from all over the world and we share this only one city with each other. We must be tolerant to each other and we have to respect each other in this “little” town to feel free and safe. Muslims and the LGBTIs are parts of the city, but I feel that the majority of both sides have prejudices about each other.

What did you realize in terms of the needs of society before you came up with the idea of this panel?

The majority of the LGBTI community believes that most homophobic attacks here are perpetrated by young people from the Muslim community. But that is not true. With this event I will show that both communities can live together freely and safely. We will also demonstrate that the Muslim community has LGBTIs among themselves. We all have to make sure that the LGBTIs with Islamic backgrounds can feel safe and understood. I personally know some of them here in Berlin and they tell me horrible things. I hope this event will be a signal for the world, that an imam opens the doors of a mosque to LGBTIs.

Can we say that this might be an example where Islam is experienced in a more inclusive way?

It is an example and I think it will make noise… I’m ready for discussions but I will not give up and I will not go in my house and close the doors and shut my eyes. I will continue the example and maybe we can do it in another city. It’s a little step, but that step is more than important.

Lastly, how do you think that such an event and discussion can enrich the struggle against homophobia and racism in Germany?

I hope that this event will support the struggle against homophobia and racism here in Germany and in other parts of the world. We cannot give up and we must believe in our own resources, energies, hope and courage. We are for the same thing – never forget what a friend of mine says in a song: “Love can never be forbidden”!

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