The organisers of last weekend London’s Pride festival have received a formal complaint from a mosque accused on a banner, pictured above, of inciting the murder of gay people.
East London Mosque spokesman Salman Farsi told the Standard:
We’ve raised a complaint with the co-chairs of the event that the group – [the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain] –was inciting hatred against Muslims, and in particular [in relation] to our good name, based on absolutely groundless reasons.
Ex-Muslims were seen carrying a series of controversial signs during the march through the capital last weekend.
Banners bearing slogans such as “Allah is gay” and “Fuck Islamic homophobia” were carried at the event by members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), who were a participating group listed on Pride’s website.
Our track record for challenging homophobia in East London is quite well known.
He citing campaigns to condemn “gay-hate” stickers that sprung up around Tower Hamlets several years ago and the mosque’s public condemnations of attacks on LGBT people.
For us to see such a mainstream event that is supposed to celebrate tolerance and love used as a hate platform was really quite shocking. One of the signs said ‘Islamophobia is an oxymoron’.
Our religion doesn’t promote hatred or homophobia. Yes, there might be theological topics dealing with homosexuality in Islam, but that’s clearly very separate from promoting hatred and homophobia.
He added that the mosque had asked for an apology from Pride and a probe into what had happened.
Lucy Masoud, a firefighter and LGBT secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, stood next to CEMB activists at Pride and told the Standard she was also disturbed by the slogans.
The group describes itself as a safe space for gay people and former Muslims. Obviously I support that. What I don’t support is people holding up signs saying ‘Fuck Islam’ at Pride.
She published a blog on the FBU website on Wednesday in which she condemned the banners as Islamophobic, but it was taken down as the union had yet to agree a common stance on the matter.
About 20 CEMB activists marched on Saturday with placards bearing a range of messages from “We’re here, we’re kaffir, get used to it” to “Allah is gay”. Several wore body paint across their chests depicting eyes crying rainbow-coloured tears.
Maryam Namazie, spokeswoman for CEMB and a Freethinker columnist, said the group was protesting the treatment of LGBT people in states under hardline Islamic leadership, such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Iran – where homosexuality is a capital offence.
Namazie told the Standard it was “apt” to name the East London Mosque on the placards.
At Pride, we were highlighting the 13 states under Islamic rule that kill gay men – 14 if we include Daesh-held territories.
Namazie said that the signs did not say “Fuck Islam” but “Fuck Islamic homophobia”, adding:
In my view Islam, like all religions, is homophobic. Why is it not possible to say this without fear of reprisal or accusations of Islamophobia?
Pride is full of ‘God is gay’ and ‘Jesus had two fathers’ placards as well as those mocking the church and priests and pope, yet hold a sign saying ‘Allah is gay’ – as we did – and the police converge to attempt to remove them for causing offence.
Pride has also written to East London Mosque to say it has referred the complaint to its community advisory board, which assesses every parade entry after each year’s march, and “decide on whether CEMB will be allowed to march again in the years ahead.”
• In a piece published in our op-ed section below, Maryam Namazie provides an in-depth explanation as to why the CEMB had joined the Pride event.