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Gay Media's Failure to Accurately Report Stories

from !-Queer - 03.08.2005 13:01

Permission is granted to republish this Op/Ed. Bio appears at the end
of this message. Acknowledgements are welcomed to  FaisalAlam@aol.com.

August 1, 2005

Opinion / Editorial - Gay Media's Failure to Accurately Report Stories
Adds to Growing Islamaphobia and Hatred Towards Islamic World

By Faisal Alam, Founder of Al-Fatiha (LGBTIQ Muslims)

In the wake of the recent London bombings, the Western world has been
propelled into another vicious cycle of revenge against Muslims and the
Islamic world. While mainstream media around the world have more
accurately represented the outpouring of condemnation by Muslim
organizations and institutions against the attacks in London, the gay
and lesbian media in the U.S. has unfortunately succumbed once again to
the false belief that Islam condones acts of violence including suicide
bombings, executions of civilians and even the killing of homosexuals.

On July 19, a number of exiled Iranian organizations reported that two
teenagers, one aged 18 and the other a minor (who's age is reported to
be either 16 or 17) were hanged in Iran, a country that President Bush
infamously labeled as part of the "axis of evil." The news of this
horrific execution was blasted across gay and lesbian media websites
with pictures that depict the final moments of the teenagers as they
were escorted to face their inevitable death. On June 20, the largest
gay and lesbian political organization in the United States, the Human
Rights Campaign issued a press release condeming the execution and
calling on Secretary of State Condalezza Rice to condemn the brutal
killings in Iran and similar attacks on sexual and gender minorities in
other countries.

While the gay and lesbian media in the United States and even the Human
Rights Campain jumped quickly to condemn the executions, government
officials in Sweden and the Netherlands announced that they would halt
any extraditions of gay people to Iran. OutRage, a queer political
organization in the UK even went as far as calling for the European
Union to institute trade sanctions against Iran for its on-going assault
against sexual and gender minorities. While these Western organizations
and governments quickly came to the judgement that Iran was displaying a
brutal form of oppression, very few people took the time to research the
deatails of the case or even consult with experts who deal with such
news on a daily basis. In fact it was almost a week later that we began
to read more accurate accounts of why the teens were executed from
international human rights groups including Amnesty International, the
Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights
Commission - all of whom have contacts in Iran and ways to confirm news
of such incidents from independent sources.

While no one will ever know why these two young men were executed in
Iran, what remains clear is that the hysteria surrounding the executions
was enormous and only fed to the growing Islamaphobia and hatred towards
Muslims and the Islamic world. The fact that the executions occurred in
Iran also fed the frenzy of rumors that Iran will be the next target in
the so-called "War on Terror." While it may not seem that the execution
of two young men propogates the notion that Iran is part of the "axis of
evil" one must only look at the lack of outrage expressed at the recent
news of three men who were sentenced to be stoned to death in Nigeria
for their supposed "homosexuality." Unfortunately the graphic pictures
that accompanied the news from Iran only added fuel to the fire that is
burning around the world in the minds of those that continue to perceive
Islam as a religion of violence and terror. Furthermore, the lack of
investigation into the case before a world-wide call to action was
proclaimed will probably only perpetuate the cycle of violence against
sexual and gender minorities in countries like Iran.

There are two lessons that should be learned from this tragic case:

1) The first is that it is imperative for Western organizations, queer
and non-queer, to build connections with progressive NGOs and other
groups on the ground in countries like Iran. While many feminist groups
and HIV/AIDS organizations have done a tremendous job in reaching out to
sister organizations around the world, queer groups in the West have
done very little to help become part of the growing international queer
movement. Apart from efforts of organizations like Amnesty
International and its LGBT program, the International Gay and Lesbsian
Human Rights Commission, the Astraea Foundation and the Human Rights
Watch in the United States, very little effort has been made to educate
Western LGBT communities about the real and accurate situation faced by
sexual and gender minorities abroad and how to support them in ways that
will not cause further backlash. By creating a movement of solidarity,
we can begin to more accurately report news and accounts of human rights
abuses, while also calling upon our own communities to take action and
speak out against such abuses - but only when the time is right and when
it is in the best interest of those that we seek to help. Otherwise we
will fail to accomplish our real objective - to help alleviate the
suffering of queer people in countries like Iran. In fact our actions
if not conducted properly may very well add to the targeted arrests of
gay men and the subsequent torture and death that they may face, in a
country such as Iran.

2) Secondly, we must begin to view our gay and lesbian liberation
movement through a broader lens of social justice and human rights.
While we seek to condemn the executions of gay teens in Iran, we must
remember that our own country (the United States) is one of only five in
the entire world that executes juvenile offenders. In fact it was only
in March 2005 that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the
death penalty could not be applied to juveniles who committed crimes
when they were under the age of 18. Since 2000, countries that have
been known to have executed juvenile offenders include China, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Pakistan and the United States. 13
of these 21 executions of young people have occurred in the United
States. While other governments in the Western world continue to move
toward a consensus that the death penalty is an inhumane form of
punishment - no matter what the crime - the United States refuses to
outlaw capital punishment. In 2004, China, Iran, the United States, and
Vietnam accounted for 97% of the executions recorded by Amnesty
International. While activists in the United States are quick to
condemn the executions of people in the Islamic world, we refuse to look
at the issue of capital punishment as it applies to all people -
regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The
outlawing of capital punishment is not a "gay" issue - but it is a
matter of social justice and human rights.

In a time when Islamaphobia flourishes in Europe and the United States,
it is imperative for the gay and lesbian media to look beyond its
Western "pink" glasses. We must not feed into the hysteria surrounding
the so-called "war on terrorism," and the assault on law-abiding
Muslims. Nor must we let our anger and outrage against regimes like
those in Iran interfere with our work to strategically condemn human
rights abuses against sexual and gender minorities, in consultation with
individuals who's lives will be affected by our actions.

Gay and lesbian media, together with LGBT activists must work together
with international human rights organizations that have great experience
in dealing with news of horrific human rights abuses. Together, with
building connections and supporting LGBT organizations abroad, we can
continue our work to build a truly international queer movement for
equality and liberation.

Faisal Alam is a queer Muslim activist of Pakistani descent. As the
founder of Al-Fatiha, Faisal has represented the LGBT Muslim community
at national and international conferences and forums, speaking out about
the many challenges facing queer Muslims around the world. Faisal's
professional work has included HIV/AIDS education and prevention, LGBT
political organizing, and women's reproductive rights. Faisal currently
resides in Atlanta, GA where he continues his social justice work to
build a world of peace, love and justice.

علّق على المقال

مقالة جيدة بقلم فيصل علم
بسام كساب

مقالة مجاملة للكفرة

مقالة يجامل فيها الكاتب الكفار
ويكفي قوله بأن إتهام الشواذ للإسلام بقتل الشواذ هو إتهام خاطئ
بل هو صحيح .. وهذا هو المفروض
لأن هذا حكم الشرع
لا أعلم هل يجب أن يتم مكافئتهم على ذلك وتقبيلهم
وإيران لا يؤخذ بأحكامها ولا بأحكام بوش
رغم أن ما فعلته المحكمة الإيرانية صحيح على كل الأحوال في حال كانت التهمة ثابتة
ومن ينكر أن الإسلام يرى قتل الشواذ فليأتي بدليل من الكتاب والسنة