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Courtyard in the Grande Mosquee de Paris (Credit:  Rob Annable)

Courtyard in the Grande Mosquee de Paris (Credit: Rob Annable)

No way could I keep this good news to myself, so here’s my ultra-fast (and possibly mistake-ridden) translation of an article published on November 30, 2012, in the online version, LeMonde.fr, of the French newspaper, Le Monde.  Read and celebrate!

In the home of a Buddhist monk located in an exclusive part of an eastern suburb of Paris, Muslim homosexuals will join together for their first prayer on Friday, November 30.  The ten-meter square room which Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, the sponsor of this project, is preparing will become the first ultra-progressive mosque in Europe, a gay and feminist friendly space where GLBT people will be welcome and where women will be encouraged to lead prayer.

The Buddhist monk, Frederico Joko Procopio, homosexual and militant supporter of GLBT rights, loaned him a part of his dojo out of solidarity.

Until then, Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed prayed every Friday with several thousand believers in the Grande Mosquée of Paris.  This Muslim homosexual appreciated the anonymity of this mosque and the content, never political, of the services held there.  But such a combination is rare, and even in the crowd, certain individuals, especially transitioning transsexuals or effeminate men, “stood out and were immediately identified,” he said.  He intends, then, to offer a place to all those who cannot feel comfortable in a traditional worship space.

 

Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed in 2012 (Credit: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images)

Married to a South-African since 2010, Zahed declares, “Muslims must not feel ashamed.  Homosexuality is not condemned anywhere, neither in the Qur’an nor in the Hadith.  If the Prophet Mohammed were alive, he would marry homosexual couples.”  He dreams of an Islam, “peaceful, reformed, inclusive” that accepts blasphemy since “critical thoughts are essential to spiritual development.

“AN ABERRATION”

Not a single Muslim organization has supported this initiative.  For many Imams and Muslim personalities in France, this project goes against religious teachings.

“There are Muslim homosexuals, they exist, but to open a mosque is an aberration because religion, that’s not it,” says Abdallah Zekri, president of the Anti-Islamaphobia Observatory under the authority of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM).

“We don’t blame homosexuals, but we can’t make space for them to the point that their activities become part of society,” explains Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Grande Mosquée of Paris.  According to him, this mosque will not be recognized.  “It’s something outside of the community of faithful,” he says.

A PROGRESSIVE ISLAM

So-called “inclusive” mosques already exist in South Africa, in the United States, and in Canada, but the one in Paris is the first in Europe.  The organization, Muslims for Progressive Values, started in 2007 in the United States, has identified a dozen of such worship spaces in North America.

“The goal of Muslims who designate themselves progressive is not to focus on a ‘defense’ of sexual minorities against an interpretation of Islam that they judge intolerant and obsolete based on their experience of having been discriminated against,” explains Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, a research associate at the Institute of Research and Study of the Arab and Muslim World (IREMAM).  “They want to reform, to promote an Islam that is inclusive of progressive values,” she adds.

Source:  www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2012/11/30/une-mosquee-ouverte-aux-homosexuels-pres-de-paris_1798351_3224.html, accessed 30 November 2012.  See also:  http://www.rferl.org/content/gay-friendly-mosque-muslims-near-paris-tests-taboos/24785688.htm, accessed 30 November 2012.

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