“Sex & the (Islamic) City 2″: Ugly American-ettes v. Glamorous “Ugly? Muslims

* Welcome to my Turk gay blog. View Turkish/Arab gay porn and porn movies featuring the sexiest Turkish/Arab gay twinks with big dicks. Don’t forget to bookmark my blog. Have fun! *

Ba-dum-bum-ch.

Yup, my two jokes about this movie are funnier than most of the really bad, sex-laden puns and vulgarities that populate this cheesy, annoying waste of time. The movie–which mostly took place at a gay wedding in New York and a trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (actually, filmed in Morocco)–had so many dumb R-rated double entendres and was so punny unfunny (?Bedouin Bath & Beyond?–haha, funny), it felt as if it was written by senior citizen pornographers who started a second career as bad nightclub act comedians in the Catskills. Blechhh. This horrible movie makes the first “Sex and the City? movie (read my review)–which I hated–look like Shakespeare.

Also, I didn’t know for whom to root: the ugly Americans who are the female (at least, I think they’re “shes?) embodiment of everything the Islamic world claims is bad about us, or the sleazy Muslim phonies the movie tries to tell us are so charming, luxe, stylish and uber-modest. Yes, the movie does take some satisfying digs at the uber-intolerant Muslims, but only at their prudishness, which isn’t the most accurate or even objectionable part of Islam or the Gulf States and the Middle East. And just because a movie makes statements about the obvious, while still mostly glamorizing Abu Dhabi, doesn’t make it a great movie. This is Exhibit A that it’s otherwise.

So, what is the movie about? I wasn’t quite sure, other than to watch ugly, aging women in gaudy clothes and make-up bitch, whine, and moan at and about their husbands, jobs, and nannies, and then try to have sex in the Middle East, after hanging out at the most painful-to-watch gay wedding. Memo to gay men: this film didn’t do ya any favors. The gay wedding was the most atrociously gaudy, corny thing ever, filled with every gay steretype in the book, including Liza Minnelli performing the Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies? with two Liza impersonators. And did they really have to impress upon us that one of the gays in the wedding is a Jew, and pervert every wedding tradition of my religion into a gay circus?

I’m not sure which was worse–the gay wedding or the scene of the four women singing feminist anthem, “I Am Woman,? during karaoke at a club in Abu Dhabi. If these four “are woman,? G-d help us. There ain’t no roar here. Just a lot of kvetching.

When the gay wedding is over, we see a whole bunch of Sarah Jessica Parker whining, nagging, and bitching at her husband (yup, that’s the unbliss of hetero marriage the filmmakers want you to see versus the gaudy-but-pleasant love of the gays). She’s mad that her husband, “Mr. Big,? wants to stay in, eat take-out, and watch TV. Oh, and he put his feet on their expensive couch. She scolds him that “there’s no sparkle,? whatever that means. And, of course, at the end she’s bought off with “sparkle?–a giant diamond. Yaaawn. Watch “Divorce Court.? It’s more creative.

Ditto for the gratuitous “wet t-shirt contest?-style scenes of Charlotte’s bra-less nanny. I guess that was thrown in for the few moron guys who aren’t man enough to get out of being forced to sit through this sad flick with their girlfriends and wives.

And then when that stuff gets tiresome, the girls go on an all-expense paid trip to Abu Dhabi, courtesy of Sheikh Khalid, an Abu Dhabi royal who hires publicist Samantha to do wonders for his emirate. “It’s the NEW Middle East,? he tells her. “I can hear the decadence calling,? one of the “Sex? hags later declares. They’re so impressed by their luxe airplane accommodations, which are so ugly and gaudy they resemble Saddam Hussein’s palace. “Pringles in Arabic.? Are Hollywood’s Americans that dumb that they think these Islamic barbarians don’t have American products with Arabic stamped on them? Is it that impressive? Here’s a tip: American foods and clothing (especially if, in some cases, it’s underneath a niqab–the Islamic full-ninja face veil) doesn’t make you moderate. It doesn’t mean you’re any less an extremist.

And guess what? There’s Hebrew Bazooka bubble gum, too. Hey, maybe they should do a movie. I guarantee no one in Tel Aviv or Eilat will arrest Samantha for kissing in public.

Once in Abu Dhabi, the women are chauffeured around in their own personal Maybachs, feted by their own personal butlers, and hosted in a giant set of suites occupying an entire floor. They’re shown drinking alcohol all over the place (an Islamic no-no), and dazzled that an Islamic woman’s niqab (again, the full-Ninja face-veil) is decorated with fashionable embroidery. One of the characters, Miranda tells us:

Younger Muslims are accepting old traditions in new and personal ways.

Yeah, whatever. Tell it to all the women who’ve been honor-killed for being too Western and all the child brides who–well, I’d love to see how they accept old traditions in “new and personal ways.?

And, of course, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) runs into her past love and former fiance, Aiden. Because–don’t you know?!–all lost loves are found in Abu Dhabis souk (Arab market). And when she loses her American passport in the confusion, the kindly Muslim shop-owner saves her passport and returns it to her, days later. Because, in the Muslim Mid-East, they’d NEVER sell your American passport and copy it a million times, right? The shop owner is so nice and so honest, he won’t even take a small tip for saving her passport. Yup, that’s so like the Arab market, isn’t it? Hey, Hollywood, stop exoticizing the Arab street. It’s neither as charming in real life nor as magical as you want us to believe. Not even close.

Even though we’re shown that Abu Dhabi natives are prudes, sex is mostly glamorized in Abu Dhabi in this movie. A handsome Dutch architect tells Samantha that Abu Dhabi makes him “feel like a boy again,? because in Paris he’d already have his hand down her shirt but here he must be restrained and take things slow.

Eventually, the women learn that Abu Dhabi isn’t actually the Western sex paradise they thought. Samantha gets arrested for kissing on the beach. Their luxe trip is suddenly no longer on Sheikh Khalid’s tab, and they have to leave Abu Dhabi.

Charlotte, a convert to Judaism has a passport in her waspy maiden name and not her husband’s Jewish surname. When she’s asked why by Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw, it’s clear she gets it. That’s where some of the rare, great dialogue and lines in this movie–which are few and far in between–come in:

Carrie: York? What happened to Goldenblatt? It’s the “new Middle East.?

Charlotte: It’s the Middle East.

Carrie: It’s the new Middle East.

Charlotte: It’s. the. Middle. East.

In the end, when they are in the Arab market, again, trying to get Carrie’s passport, Samantha’s purse drops and condoms fall out, just as Muslim men are answering the call to prayer. The men get very angry. But I wasn’t sure for whom to root–the vulgar slut or them. It was like my many “Feuds I Wish Would Go On Forever & That Both Sides Would Lose.?

“Yes, I have sex!? she shouts at them. “I have sex! I have sex! I have sex!? I laughed, but at both her and her Muslim antagonists. She’s a disgusting whore, and they are vile anti-Western creatures who–in real life–would sleep with her if they could get away with it. Ultimately, the women sneak away in full-ninja niqab face veils and robes to get away. But not before we’re shown the “moderate? Muslim women who help them. Those women open their robes to reveal high-fashion low-cut outfits from designers in New York. Is this supposed to mean sisterhood? Does Hollywood not know that the most anti-Western, anti-Semitic, prudish wives of emirate Sheikhs and merchants are Fifth Avenue’s biggest customers? Sorry, chicks, but haute couture doesn’t mean you’re not an Islamo-Nazi. It just means you’re a rich one.

Like I said, this movie takes a couple of digs at Abu Dhabi and Muslims after almost two hours of glamorizing both and denigrating American women as sex-crazed nutjobs. And that’s not enough. It also didn’t make it watching this utter monstrosity. (Sorry, but watching Muslim Arabs singing Foreigner’s “It Feels Like the First Time? at a karaoke bar ain’t my idea of fun.)

Sitting through all the bad jokes, crotch-cams, naked men’s butts, crying melodrama, and other vulgar stupidity (not to mention bad Arabic pronunciation) isn’t my idea of how to spend ten bucks and nearly three hours. I’ve said it before–when I reviewed the first “Sex and the City? movie: these four women are dirty guys in ugly, aging women’s bodies covered in expensive bad clothes.

Equality in Israel

* Welcome to my Arabic gay galleries. Watch Turkish gay arab sex and movies featuring the hottest Turkish hunks with monster cocks. Don’t forget to bookmark my blog. Have fun! *

UIC Pride is essentially a group with two main goals: to create a community in which LGBT individuals can feel safe and accepted and to educate UIC and the wider community on LGBT issues that may be overlooked or ignored. It is the second of the above goals that is being fulfilled in this piece.

The Middle East isn’t exactly the best place in the world for human rights in general and LGBT rights in particular. Homosexuality is illegal in Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Gaza, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, with penalties ranging from three years in prison to death. In Iraq, homosexuality was illegal until 2003, after the US invasion. In Egypt and Jordan, homosexuality is technically legal but there is absolutely no protection from hate crimes or honor killings; gays are often persecuted under lewd conduct laws, and there are reports of gays seeking asylum elsewhere. The Palestinian Authority has legalized homosexuality and there are even LGBT organizations for West Bank Palestinians . . . However, these organizations are located in Israel.

Amidst all of this oppression, one nation stands up for what is right: Israel. In Israel, homosexuality has been legal since 1963 de facto and since 1988 de jure. Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that allows same-sex couples full adoption rights. It is the only nation in the Middle East that allows gays to serve openly in the military, something even our nation has yet to allow. Israel even recognizes same-sex marriages performed abroad, as there is no civil marriage in Israel.

In 1951 Israel signed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees covenant, guaranteeing asylum for anyone persecuted on the basis of sexual orientation. In concordance with this, Israel’s Interior Ministry has said that any gay Palestinian can apply to remain in Israel indefinitely, making Israel one of the few options available to desperate and oppressed gay Palestinians. Gay Palestinians in the territories are often accused of collaborating with Israel and arrested and/or are pressured into becoming suicide bombers to purge their moral guilt. We showed a film with the UIC Levine Hillel Center this past year with a plot along those lines.

Israel is not perfect. Last year there was a fatal attack at a Tel Aviv gay and lesbian center when an extremist gunman entered and opened fire. Though this attack drew condemnations from all across Israeli society and the highest levels of government, it shows that there are still obstacles to overcome in Israel. That’s what’s so amazing about Israel though; the obstacles can, and likely will, be overcome. Furthermore, although gay Palestinians are able to apply to stay in Israel, many do not. It could either be that they’re unaware of their rights or they fear they’ll be deported if they go through the authorities. They know what will happen to them if they’re sent home and they grew up learning to mistrust the Israeli government.

Despite Israel’s flaws, it is still amazingly progressive when it comes to sexual freedoms. Some organizations that claim to fight for gay rights would do well to remember that. Many of them end up fighting on the side of Israel’s enemies, their enemies, the enemies of freedom, those who would kill them sooner than look at them. While hating on Israel may be fashionable these days, we have decided to stand on the right side of history.

We choose to stand with freedom and democracy, with the only chance for a prosperous Middle East. We stand with those in Arab countries who long for the same rights we have won in America, and even more so in Israel. We stand with the best hope Middle Eastern LGBT individuals have. We stand with Israel.

We pray for peace in the Middle East. We pray for all those throughout the region and the world who are forced to hide who they are and for all those who will be unable to do so and have to face the consequences.

And finally, we wish Israel a very happy sixty-second birthday with many more to come

Homosexuality and Islam

In Islam, homosexuals (called qaum Lut, the “people of Lot”) are condemned in the story of Lot’s people in the Qur’an (15:73; 26:165) and in the last address of the Prophet Muhammad. However, attraction of men to beautiful male youths has been a part of the culture of some Islamic societies and the attraction is not generally condemned in itself.

With regard to lesbian homosexuality, some have argued that since penetration is not involved, female homosexual acts should be less severely punished. Shari’a (Islamic law) is most concerned with public behavior and outwards, so there is no strong condemnation of homosexuality if it is not displayed in public. 1
Homosexuality in the Qur’an

The following passages are taken from the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of the Qur’an.

“We also sent Lut: He said to his people: Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds. And his people gave no answer but this: they said, “Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!”" (Qur’an 7:80-82)

“Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)! They said: “If thou desist not, O Lut! thou wilt assuredly be cast out!” He said: “I do detest your doings:” “O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!” So We delivered him and his family,- all Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 26:165-175)

“Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant! But his people gave no other answer but this: They said, “Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!” But We saved him and his family, except his wife; her We destined to be of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)!” (Qur’an 27:55-58)

“And (remember) Lut: behold, he said to his people: “Ye do commit lewdness, such as no people in Creation (ever) committed before you. Do ye indeed approach men, and cut off the highway? – and practise wickedness (even) in your councils?” But his people gave no answer but this: they said: “Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth.” (Qur’an 29:28-29)

“If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (Reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way. If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 4:15-16)

Homosexuality in the Sharia

While there is a consensus that same-sex intercourse is in violation of Islamic law, there are differences of opinion within Islamic scholarship about punishment, reformation, and what standards of proof are required before physical punishment becomes lawful.

In Sunni Islam there are eight madhhabs, or legal schools, of which only four still exist: Hanafi, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Maliki. The main Shia school is called Ja’fari, but there are Zaidi and Ismai’ili also. More recently, some groups have rejected this tradition in favor of greater ijtihad, or individual interpretation. Of these schools, according to Michael Mumisa of the Birmingham-based Al Mahdi institute:

* The Hanafi school does not consider same-sex intercourse to constitute adultery, and therefore leaves punishment up to the judge’s discretion. Most early scholars of this school specifically ruled out the death penalty, others allow it for a second offence.
* Imam Shafi’i considers same-sex intercourse as analogous to other zina; thus, a married person found to have done so is punished as an adulterer (by stoning to death), and an unmarried one, as a fornicator, is left to be flogged.
* The Maliki school says that anyone (married or unmarried) found to have committed same-sex intercourse should be punished as an adulterer.
* Within the Ja’fari schools, Sayyid al-Khoi says that anyone (married or unmarried) found to have committed same-sex intercourse should be punished as an adulterer.

It should also be noted that the punishment for adultery requires four witnesses; by analogy, all schools, require four witnesses to the physical act of penetration for the punishment to be applied.But if otherwise any other proof is found through modern methods such as DNA testing or so the punishment can be implimented.

According to the modern Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s summary:

“The jurists of Islam have held different opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for zina, or should both the active and passive participants be put to death? While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements.” 2

History of Homosexuality in Islamic Societies

17th cent. painting of Mahmud and Ayaz (Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art). The love of the Sultan (in red) for his slave (in green) has entered Islamic legend as a paragon of ideal love.

The chaste love of men for youths has been regarded as something sacred in many Islamic socities, as reflected in the romantic love literature of Muslim Spain and in the Qur’an where Paradise contains beautiful male virgins. Occasionally, these literary praises extended to more carnal forms of desire, as can be seen in the poetry of Abu Nuwas and many others. In Islamic teaching, however, while homosexual desire and love might be accommodated, same-sex intercourse is prohibited as a violation of the natural boundaries set by Allah.

Early Islamic cultures, especially those in which homosexuality was entrenched in the pre-Islamic pagan culture, were renowned for their cultivation of a homosexual aesthetic. They reconciled their new religion using a hadith ascribed to Muhammad declaring male lovers who die chaste to be martyrs: “He who loves and remains chaste and conceals his secret and dies, dies a martyr.”

The result is a religion that allows love between those of the same gender as long as they do not have sexual intercourse. Ibn Hazm, Ibn Daud, Al-Mu’tamid, Abu Nuwas, and many others wrote extensively and openly of love between men. However, in order for the transgression to be proven, at least four men or eight women must bear witness against the accused, thus making it very difficult to persecute those who did not remain celibate in their homes.

The intended meaning of “same-sex intercourse” is sexual intercourse between two or more males, or sexual intercourse between two or more females. It does not mean the act of masturbation, nor does it have anything to do with nocturnal emissions, both of which are considered to invalidate wudu and require the Muslim to take a full bath or shower before his or her next prayer, but are not otherwise punishable under Sharia.
Homosexuality Laws in Modern Islamic Countries

Same-sex intercourse carries the death penalty in five officially Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, and Yemen. 3 It formerly carried the death penalty in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and in Iraq under a 2001 decree by Saddam Hussein. The legal situation in the United Arab Emirates is unclear. In many Muslim nations, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria or the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines or corporal punishment. In some Muslim-majority nations, such as Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, or Mali, same-sex intercourse is not forbidden by law. However, in Egypt gays have been the victims of laws against “morality”.

In Saudi Arabia, the maximium punishment for homosexuality is public execution, but the government will use other punishments, i.e. fines, jail time and whipping as alternatives, unless it feels that homosexuals are challenging state authority by engaging in a gay rights movement. 4 Iran is perhaps the nation to execute the largest number of its citizens for homosexuality. Since its Islamic revolution in Iran, the Iranian government has executed more than 4000 people charged with homosexual acts. In Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban homosexuality went from a capital crime to one that it punished with fines and prison sentence, and a similar situation seems to have occurred in Iraq.

Most international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, condemn laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime. Since 1994 the United Nations Human Rights Committee has also ruled that such laws violated the right to privacy guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covent on Civil and Political Rights. However (except for nations such as Turkey that were required to change their laws to be eligible to join the European Union) most Muslim nations insist that such laws are neccesary to preserve Islamic morality and virtue. Of the nations with a majority of Muslim, only Lebanon has an internal effort to legalize homosexuality. However, some Muslims have expressed criticism of the legal sanctions used against homosexuality.

Reasons given by Muslims condemning the executions include: the fact that some legal schools (e.g. Hanafi) regard it as unjustified; the argument that the death penalty is not specified for it in the Qur’an; the idea that the punishment is unduly harsh; and opposition to the idea that the state’s laws should be based on religion. The introduction of the AIDS pandemic in the Muslim world has also promoted more discussion about the legal status of homosexuality as the legal sanctions against homosexuality have made it difficult to intiaite any educational programs directed at high risks groups.

While executions and other criminal sanctions curtail any public gay rights movement, it is impractical to give criminal sanctions to all homosexuals living in a Muslim country, and it is common knowledge (to foreigners visiting a Muslim country) that some young Muslim men will experiment with homosexual relations as an outlet to sexual desires that cannot be met in a society where the sexes are often kept segregated. These discreet and casual homosexual relations allow men to engage in premartial sex with a low risk of facing the social or legal sanctions that would occur if they involved in adultery or fornication with a woman that might result in a pregnancy. Most of these men do not consider themsleves to be gay or bisexual.

A related problem to full enforcement of the laws against homosexuality is that while the sexes are often segregated, men are encouraged to developed close friendships with other men, and women are encouraged to develop close friendships with other women. Also, the Islamic law requires a certain number of male and female witnesses to the homosexual act to testify in court. Islam does place a strong value on the right to privacy in the home and thus homosexual relations that occur in private are theoretically outside the bounds of the law, although that is more theory then reality.
Liberal Islamic Stances on Homosexuality

Some self-described liberal Muslims accept and consider homosexuality as natural, regarding these verses as either obsolete in the context of modern society, or point out that the Qu’ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love. However, this position remains highly controversial even amongst liberal movements within Islam, and is considered completely beyond the pale by mainstream Islam.

Saudi Gay Scene: ‘Forbidden, but I can’t Help It’

For Samir*, a 34-year-old gay man living in Saudi Arabia, each day is a denial. He lives in Mecca, the holiest city according to Islam, and is acutely aware of the stigma that surrounds his gay lifestyle.

“I’m a Muslim. I know it’s forbidden, but I can’t help it,” he tells ABC News, clearly conflicted.

“I pray to God to help me be straight, just to avoid hell. But I know that I’m gay and I’m living as one, so I can’t see a clear vision for the future.”

Samir, like many gay men in the Arab world, guards his sexual orientation with a paranoid secrecy. To feel free he takes long vacations to Thailand, where he has a boyfriend, and spends weekends in Lebanon, which he regards as having a more gay-tolerant society.

But at home in Saudi Arabia, he is vigilant. Samir’s parents don’t know of his lifestyle. He says his mom would kill herself if she found out. They constantly set him up with women they consider potential wives. At work, Samir watches his words, careful not to arouse the suspicion of colleagues.

“You can’t let a word slip that makes you seem gay-friendly or gay,” he says. “Before you make a move you have to think.”

Samir occasionally goes to Saudi cafes known to be popular gay hangouts, but his public engagements stop there. He and his friends are constantly wary of officers from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the kingdom’s religious police, who patrol for and punish men they suspect of being gay.

Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but the charge calls for four witnesses to make a case. Arrests by the religious police are far more arbitrary. In a recent case they apprehended one man at a Jeddah shopping mall, suspecting he was gay from his tight jeans and fitted shirt.

“I’ve been invited to private parties for gay men in Jeddah, but I never go because I know what would happen if we were caught,” Samir told ABC News.

“Unless it’s a VIP house — if the party is at the home of one of the princes or one of the sheiks then you’re protected.”

In Saudi Arabia, where men and women are strictly separated, there is some space for gay life. Gay men can go cruising — a term for picking up partners — and socialize in male-only sections of cafes and restaurants. In line with sex-segregated social norms, gay lovers can often spend intimate time together without arousing suspicion.

But gays and lesbians in Saudi Arabia still need to accommodate the pressures of public life, in some cases pairing off to accommodate a freer lifestyle.

“There is a gay group of girls in Saudi looking for gay men to marry. It’s the perfect solution,” says Samir, adding that he wouldn’t mind a lesbian wife of his own.

Online Freedom but With Entrapment Risks

For Samir, the dozens of emerging Web forums for gay Arab men are a freer alternative to the offline Saudi society. I met him in one such forum, called Arab Gay Love, e-cruising for new friends and partners. Some of the users there surf with screen names that specify their sexual role: “top” or “bottom.” Among Arabs, it seems, a mix of stigma and machismo steers gay men toward the former.

“The more masculine you are, the more likely you are to label yourself as a ‘top.’ It re-enforces this feeling that you’re not really gay,” said Ahmed*, a gay Palestinian born in Kuwait. “They’re more comfortable with being tops, because it’s easier to negate the gay stigma.”

Gay Web Sites Blocked in Many Arab Countries

Web forums like arab-gay.com and manhunt.net are inaccessible in many Arab countries, blocked by state-run web filtering software. Using proxy servers men can get around the bans to the blocked sites, connecting with potential dates and building a knowledge base for gay life in the Arab world.

One blog from Syria, largely considered a repressed society, details a tourist’s guide to gay hangouts in Damascus and Aleppo.

“You could almost pick up guys everywhere, you just need to have a good gaydar. …There are four hammams in Damascus where you could play safely, but always be careful,” he writes, then listing the most popular “hammams,” or bath houses. He goes on to name the Safwan Hotel in

Lattakia as “the most famous gay-friendly hotel in the region.”

From his home in Mecca, Samir can surf the web forums and Facebook groups that connect him to the gay Arab world. But he does so with care, fearing that authorities will follow and flag gay activity online.

“You cannot be safe and intimate online. … he government can track everything. If they have their eye on you, they can follow your every move,” he says.

If Samir’s approach seems paranoid, it’s conditioned by horror stories of harsh crackdowns by Arab governments on gay life. In Egypt, where police have systematically arrested and tortured suspected homosexuals, vice squads have logged on to chat rooms posing as gay men. Forming friendships under a false identity, the police set up an expected first date, then meet their “suspects” with a brutal arrest.

“I was waiting for that guy I chatted with on the Internet a couple of days before that day, right in front of McDonald’s in Heliopolis. & It was almost 1 p.m., when I found four big guys surrounding me,” one victim of police brutality told Human Rights Watch after being set up on a false date.

“I was fighting and yelling in the street. I was dragged, almost carried to the police car … taken to the station, the ‘Adab’ Section, which takes care of prostitution, raping and, recently, homosexuality.” Human Rights Watch documented dozens of Web-based entrapments — men arrested by Egyptian police then tormented with beatings, electrocution and anal examinations.

The vice squad’s practice of covertly hunting gay men in chat rooms cooled once the teeming gay Internet scene in Egypt slowed down. Fear and suspicion effectively shut down one of gay Egypt’s few free outlets. At one point online entrapment was yielding one arrest per week, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Web was part of a greater crackdown in Egypt, a country that was once a liberal environment for homosexuals. (One gay Palestinian who has studied Arab homophobia described 20th century Egypt as the “San Francisco of the Middle East.”) Social and authoritarian attitudes toward homosexuality began to change after the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, and grew steadily harsher through the 1990s as the secular state gave way to a growing Islamic puritanism.

Government-led assaults on homosexuals intensified in 2001. The pivot point was a mass arrest known as the “Queen Boat” incident. In the early morning hours of May 11, 2001, police raided a floating nightclub called the Queen Boat, a then-popular gay hangout moored on the Nile River. Suddenly surrounded by uniformed and undercover members of the Cairo Vice Squad, dozens of gay men were arrested, detained and tortured.

U.S. Government Has Been Quiet About Gay Crackdown in Iraq

What ensued from the Queen Boat arrests was a show trial — forced confessions, some extracted under torture and a media circus designed to amplify public fear and maximize the government’s political gain from the arrest. Though Egypt claims to have no law against homosexuality, it routinely criminalizes and prosecutes gay men under a law prohibiting “juhur,” or debauchery, a charge originally levied for prostitution.

In the heat of the case, one article in the state-owned Al-Gomhoureya newspaper gave full names and identifying details of the accused, depicting the arrested homosexuals as part of an underground religious cult. The paper ran one headline, “Satanist Pervert Surprises: They Called Themselves God’s Soldiers and Practice Group Sex in Private and Public & Meetings Every Thursday at Queen Boat,” cited in the Human Rights Watch report.

Analysts point out a number of ways the Egyptian government gains from crackdowns like the Queen Boat raid. News pages full of homophobic rants are a useful distraction from issues like a faltering economy and rampant corruption, which erode government support. In the same stroke, the state gains ground against its Islamist opponents by attacking homosexuals — trumped-up offenders against Muslim values. “They want to reassert their relevance and position themselves as defenders of morality is one way to do it,” said Scott Long, an expert who helped produce the Human Rights Watch report.

“One of the ways Arab authorities prove they’re bona fide is by cracking down on people that everyone hates. Hardly anyone is going to stand up and stick up for homosexuals,” he said.

Long applies his analysis to other governments in the region. In 2005, authorities in Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates, arrested more than two dozen men in the desert town of Ghantout at an event state officials characterized as a mass gay wedding. The UAE announced the men would receive lashings, jail time and forced hormone and psychological treatment. The case was eventually overturned on appeal, after news of the trial drew criticism from human rights activists and the U.S. State Department.

The U.S. government has been comparatively quiet, though, through a more recent and more deadly crackdown in Iraq. In attacks that accelerated last February, Shiite militiamen have carried out a series of beatings and assassinations of gay men, occasionally with the help of the Interior Ministry, according to Scott Long of Human Rights Watch. Al Qaeda in Iraq, a rival Islamist group, has also reportedly attacked gay men in Iraq, in what human rights activists call a clear moral cleansing campaign.

“The easiest group to attack are gay people, both politically and in regards to the militias’ Islamist aims. & They can’t stop women from going to work, they can’t stop couples from being together in public, but they can attack gay men,” said Michael Luongo, a gay rights expert and author of the book “Gay Travels in the Muslim World.”

“If you want religious credibility you attack gay people,” he said of the Islamist brigades. The recent spate of attacks followed a succession of sermons in Iraqi mosques, attacking the scourge of homosexuality. As in the case of Egyptian arrests, suspected homosexuals were detained, tortured, and forced to give names of other gay men for authorities to pursue.

Small Space for Gay Pride

Long recently traveled to Iraq to document the attacks and advocate for gay Iraqis under attack.

“There’s a campaign to kill them,” he said, describing how homosexuals have learned to protect themselves by keeping a low profile. “They hide. People turn off their phones, change their e-mail addresses, and stay home.”

Outside the spaces of hostile discrimination, homosexuals in the Middle East do manage to form a community and enjoy a freer lifestyle.

Israel, perhaps the most tolerant state in the Middle East, has a thriving gay community. Last year thousands attended the annual gay pride parade in Tel Aviv, though the event has drawn right-wing protests and attacks. A similar parade in Jerusalem, a more socially conservative environment, took place with police protection along the parade route.

Up the coast in Lebanon, a relatively liberal Arab society plays host to the first gay rights group in the Arab world. Members of Helem, an acronym in Arabic for “Lebanese Protection for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders,” are activists at their own peril. In a country that moves back and forth between secularism and religious politics, the group and its gay community center are creating a space for their freedom.

In other parts of the Arab world gay life has to fit into whatever space is provided, and the borders are constantly moving. In Dubai, arguably the most modern city in Arabia, gay expats have little trouble living and loving freely. Rashid, a young Lebanese expat who lives with his partner in Dubai, knows he has it better than most. Unlike many gays in the Gulf, Rashid has come out to his parents, and felt comfortable meeting men and dating as he grew up in Abu Dhabi.

Locals, he says, have a harder time. “The Europeans and Westerners are more comfortable with their homosexuality. The locals, the Saudis and Bahrainis, are less open about it,” Rashid told ABC News.

“One friend, an Emirati, was discovered to be gay at 1999 and his family disowned him. Last we heard he was deported, he can no longer come back to the UAE, and lives in France.”

The mix of tolerance and discrimination across the Middle East creates little opportunity for a cohesive gay rights movement. Moreover, the local take on homosexuality is out of line with the Western norm, a notion of being gay as a recognized minority group.

“The phrase ‘to be is not to do’ is how I explain it,” said Luongo of homosexuality in the Arab world. In other words, being gay is an act, not an identity. When gay pride does emerge, it is associated with the West, and an invading cultural colonialism. The pushback on any budding gay rights movements will likely continue, part of ongoing discrimination against homosexuals in the Middle East. There, gays will continue their negotiated lifestyle, knowing that they live and love under scrutiny.

*Name changed to protect identity

Microsoft censoring Bing’s sexy Arabic search results

The tens of millions of Arabic-speaking users of Microsoft’s popular Bing search engine have a problem. When it comes to searching for gay rights in Egypt, breast-feeding information in Algeria or sex advice in Jordan, they are out of luck. Bing is censoring search results in the Arab-speaking world, according to a prominent American research organization. The ban applies to search results in both Arabic and English found using Bing’s Arab portal.

A partial list of banned terms is shown above. But here’s the big problem… all the evidence points to Microsoft voluntarily censoring their search engine. No Arab countries asked them to censor search results. According to the Open Net Institute:

Microsoft’s explanation as to why some search keywords return few or no results is that “sometimes websites are deliberately excluded from the results page to remove inappropriate content as determined by local practice, law, or regulation.? It is unclear, however, whether Bing’s keyword filtering in the Arab countries is an initiative from Microsoft, or whether any or all of the Arab states have asked Microsoft to comply with local censorship practices or laws.

It is interesting that Microsoft’s implementation of this type of wholesale social content censorship for the entire “Arabian countries? region is in fact not being practiced by many of the Arab government censors themselves. That is, although political filtering is widespread in the MENA region, social filtering, including keyword filtering, is not practiced by all countries in MENA. ONI 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 testing and research found no evidence of social content filtering (e.g., sex, nudity, and homosexuality) at the national level in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Libya.

Meanwhile, MIT’s Technology Review parsed the Open Net report and found something very interesting. It seems that Microsoft is obsessed with the gays:

ONI performed the study by testing the search terms inside the countries. Banned words include “sex,? ? “intercourse,? “breast,? “nude,? and many more in both the English and Arabic language. The investigators also made a curious discovery: Bing engineers remembered to bar ordinary Arabs from searching for the word “penis? but not for the word “vagina.? But they left no stone unturned when it came to blocking words that might lead to sites having to do with homosexuality.

Local portal of Bings in nearly all countries or languages allow users to choose whether to use “safe search? or not. Arabic has the dubious distinction of being the only language in which users are forced to use a “nanny filter.?

Among other Arabic-speaking countries, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon and Libya do not require search engine filtering at the national level. So, it seems, Microsoft threw internet users in those country under the bridge in order to please Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Andy Greenberg notes that Microsoft is hypocritically a member of the Global Network Initative, which fights against censorship around the world. So why the embrace of sweeping web search censorship? Unlike rivals Google and Yahoo, Microsoft is a prolific pay-software producer with extensive sales in hyperconservative Arab countries. Despite piracy being endemic in the greater Middle East, Microsoft still makes a pretty penny there.

So what is a Bing-loving Egyptian to do when he wants to search for porn? Well, Microsoft strangely decided to filter based on domain destination rather than IP address… the regular US-based Bing page still provides sexxay search results to anyone in the Arab-speaking world who opens it.

Homosexuality in Arab world remains taboo

14 February 2010
caption id="attachment_28526" align="alignnone" width="253" caption="arab-boy-sexy"arab-boy-sexy/caption

Istanbul/Beirut – Homosexual men in the Arab world live in constant fear. Shiite militias in Iraq torture them to death, and in Saudi Arabia they risk a flogging.

Though there are prominent politicians, actors and artists in Arab countries whose homosexuality is an open secret, they, too, can expect harassment and criminal prosecution if they ‘out’ themselves.

Lesbianism remains such a taboo in the patriarchic societies of the Middle East that it is hardly discussed in public. Lebanon is so far the only Arab country where gays and lesbians are safe to avow their sexual orientation.

In Syria, where homosexuals face from six to 12 months in prison for ‘shameless behaviour,’ there is now a Web site, at least, that deals with the concerns of gays and lesbians.

Whether they belong to the Muslim majority or Christian minority, most Arabs justify their rejection of homosexuality with religious arguments.

‘Since the invasion of the American occupiers, the phenomenon of homosexuality among young men has spread in all regions of our country, and to them we say, you bring shame on us with your behaviour,’ Iraqi Sheikh Hassan al-Asari called out to the congregation at the Kufa mosque in the holy Shiite city of Najaf on a recent Friday.

The mosque was full, and thousands of Shiite Muslims listened attentively to the words of al-Asari, regarded as a confidant of radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

In a report last August titled ‘They Want Us Exterminated,’ the advocacy group Human Rights Watch described how far this hate toward homosexuals, couched in religion, can go. Homosexual Iraqis told of death squads that torture, mutilate and murder gays.

A number of the masked men who attack gays also rape them. Though it may seem inconsistent, some men in Turkey and the Arab world consider only the ‘passive’ partner in a sexual act between two men to be homosexual and effeminate. The ‘active’ man, however, retains his masculinity.

Homosexual men are even banned from serving in Turkey’s armed forces, ‘homosexual’ being defined as a man who can be proven to have ‘assumed the passive role’ during sex with another man.

People in the Middle East also have difficulty with the nomenclature of homosexuality. Sexual acts between members of the same gender are such a taboo in Arab countries that most Arabs either use expletives when referring to gays and lesbians or speak of ‘abnormal behaviour.’

In the United Arab Emirates, where ‘abnormal sexual relations’ are punishable by up to three years in prison, police last year launched an anti-homosexuality campaign whose official title was ‘Let’s protect our society’s traditional values!’

And in Saudi Arabia, the most conservative Arab state, a man who wears makeup and women’s clothing is called a ‘daughter of the sheikhs.’

Two Men Face Prison In Dubai

12 February 2010
caption id="" align="alignnone" width="250" caption="arab-gay-prostitute"arab-gay-prostitute/caption

Two men are facing charges in Dubai for allegedly offering sexual services on the internet. They faced Dubai’s Criminal Court of First Instance on Tuesday.

The National reports that one 22 year old man is charged with prostitution, consensual homosexual sex, producing pornographic material, cross-dressing and insulting religion, while the second, an 18-year-old student, is facing prostitution charges. Homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, and if found guilty both face a minimum of three and a maximum of 15 years in prison.

According to the prosecution, the 22 year old man was arrested at Dubai International Airport in July 20 in possession of homemade pornographic material. He has denied the charges. It’s alleged that he circulated images of himself in make up and dressed in a hijab-like veil, reading the Quran. He’s being held in solitary confinement at Al Qusais police station, to protect him from other prisoners. He is due to appear in court on January 20.

The 18 year old is accused of soliciting men for sex using internet chat rooms. He has also denied the charges. According to court documents the accused was discovered by an undercover officer in an online chat room.

Ahmadinejad says no gays in Iran

12 February 2010

The Islamic Republic of Iran has had a long history of human rights violations. Among these crimes against humanity are those committed upon gays by Iran’s government. For those of you who are unaware, “President? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak at Columbia University after Iran’s government paid $300,000 to the university for a publicity stunt that backfired in September 2007. During this speech he said “we don’t have gays? when someone asked him why gays were being abused in Iran.

Many of the students laughed at the “president’s? comments, but few really know that he meant what he said. I say this because homosexuality is punishable by torture or death. The Islamic Republic of Iran, since its beginning, has ruled that minors as young as 15 years of age are eligible for the death penalty via public hangings to further intimidate and bully other homosexuals who are in-the-closet.

Iran has been known to execute children for crimes such as stealing, but for the gay community, many Iranians will never forget the public hanging of 21 year-old Makwan Moloudzadeh. Moloudzadeh was accused of committing sodomy with three other boys. All of the witnesses during his trial retracted their statements and Moloudzadeh was never proven to be gay while stating his innocence. The 21 year-old was hanged before his family and attorney were notified by the Iranian government.

Currently at home, people are extremely concerned with the issue of gay marriage. I feel that the LGBT community needs to be more supportive, vocal, and protective of homosexuals in Iran. Other Islamic nations like the United Arab Emirates and Bosnia do not impose such inhumane tactics to try and change a natural tendency each human must live with. If the Qur’an forbids homosexuality, then why is polygamy allowed at a time when men aren’t constantly traveling or at battle like they used to during the period of Muhammad? Couldn’t a polygamist having sex easily encourage his wives to have sex with each other at the same time? Isn’t the word for that lesbian or rather bisexuality?

As heterosexual couples have abused the institution of marriage and taken it for granted and suddenly, in our overly-romantic society we live in, many are trying to defend it, let us take a moment to think about those who cannot even come out of the closet for fear of physical harm or death.

To this day, the number of homosexuals arrested, tortured, and executed remains unknown due to such numerous incidences of crimes against humanity governed by the savagery of mullahs. To this day, the Iranian government continues its abuses to human rights of all kinds. In Iran’s current regime, nobody wins. According to world statistics, 10% of the world is gay. This is an urgent worry considering Iran’s “president? said that there are no gays in Iran. This means that he seeks to obliterate at least 10% of his nation’s population because of its people’s sexual orientation while sending out a message to the world’s homosexuals and bisexuals. Iran’s government seems to care too much about what its people do in bed…how dignified for a nation that prides itself upon religious fundamentalism!

Homosexuals in the Kingdom

The monthly Magazine the Atlantic, www.Theatlantic.com ran a story by Nadya Labi in its May issue on homosexuality in Saudi Arabia, and how gay men and women in Saudi Arabia live their lives in a seemingly strict society and yet maintain a thriving homosexual culture and even running a beauty pageant of gay men.

The story, titled ” the closet Kingdom” is startling in that it shows a stark picture of Saudi Arabia different from the one we are used to hear about in the media, which is normally a country that is very strict socially and religiously.
Remarkably enough, the writer interviewed many Saudi men who appeared to be shameless about their homosexuality and also Saudi women who engage in lesbian activities with other women though done in secrecy but did not seem to bother them however.
Yasser, a young gay Saudi was quoted saying that “ it is easier to be gay here than straight? Yasser was of course referring to the strict separation of sexes in the Kingdom therefore making easier for Saudi men to congregate and if they were homosexuals to engage in homosexual activities with other men.

Gay westerners, quoted in the story, described Saudi Arabia as “ Gay haven? a gay South African man remarked that even though South Africa allows gay marriage yet there are more gays in Saudi Arabia than South Africa?
That said however, the idea of being gay in an “ Arab? contest is different from the western idea of being gay. Gay in a western sense is a sort of identity, whereas in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries is more like a? behavior? not an identity.
Arab Gulfies are known in the Arab world, the story goes, for their inclination toward homosexual relations with men and boys.
Osama Fawzi, editor of Huston based Arab Times, the most popular Arab American paper in the US and who had lived in the United Arab Emirates in the seventies said when I spoke on the phone for this column that “homosexuality is not unusual in the gulf societies, in fact for any respectable wedding in the UAE the family must bring a band of gay boys to entertain the guests?
In the UAE they call a gay man “ Saroukh? said Mr. Fawzi. “Saroukh? means rocket.
Kuwait is another Gulf country where homosexuality and pedophiles are found almost everywhere. Last year a story made headlines when two gay Kuwaitis got married and threw a wedding party in Egypt.

Fuad Al-Hashem a well-known Kuwaiti columnist for the Al-Watan newspaper is perhaps the best-known openly homosexual Kuwaiti. Though Mr. Hashem was married and had a daughter but that did not seem to prevent him from having sexual encounters with other men according to a public statement he made a few years ago.
In Oman, another gulf country where having sex with boys and gay relationship is not unusual. Oman is well known for those types of activities according to Mr. Fawzi.
This is all sound very strange especially for the manly Arab culture that stresses manhood and valor but for the Saudi and Kuwaiti pedophiles, however, they would still consider themselves as machismo men and not gay men. This contradiction in the way being Gay in the Gulf Arab societies and Gay in the Western sense is diminishing because of Arab Gays exposure to Gay rights in western societies and for some there is a need to be recognized as gays and lesbians.

Yasmeen is another young Saudi female who has sexual relations with another women in her college, and who said this type of behavior is very common in all-girls Saudi schools and colleges.
But the writer of the story made critical errors in trying to show that the Islamic faith did not condemn this type of behavior in more strict and obvious terms.

This however does not mean that Islam endorses this type of behavior, which was not common in the desert society and the Arab tribes Islam was born into. Homosexuality therefore would fall under more general rules of vice and virtue laws such as adultery and extramarital relationships.
Lack of mentioning homosexuality and not having a pronounced and a clear punishment for it in the Islamic jurisprudence system as in the case of adultery between a heterosexual man and a woman, does not give license or imply that such relationships were condoned. Homosexuality was and still is uncommon in the Arab and Muslim world, despite its pocket existence as in the case of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

Abu Al-Nuwas (The Atlantic erroneously identified him as Aby Nuwaf) was a famous poet during the Abbasid era, in the eighth century and wrote long poems about Alcohol and the love of boys but that should not be taken, as a representative of something like a “gay culture? as the writer of The Atlantic seemed to insinuate. The writer Nadya Labi gives the meaning in her report that Gay relationships were common and prevalent in those days or that Islamic morality and value system was or still lenient when it comes to such behavior.

The report also missed the whole idea when the writer spoke of Saudi men looking at boys with lust and want as an evidence of gayness or homosexuality instead of treating the subject pedophiles preying upon their young victims.

Homosexuality and Islam

31 January 2010

In Islam, homosexuals (called qaum Lut, the “people of Lot”) are condemned in the story of Lot’s people in the Qur’an (15:73; 26:165) and in the last address of the Prophet Muhammad. However, attraction of men to beautiful male youths has been a part of the culture of some Islamic societies and the attraction is not generally condemned in itself.

With regard to lesbian homosexuality, some have argued that since penetration is not involved, female homosexual acts should be less severely punished. Shari’a (Islamic law) is most concerned with public behavior and outwards, so there is no strong condemnation of homosexuality if it is not displayed in public. 1
Homosexuality in the Qur’an

The following passages are taken from the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of the Qur’an.

“We also sent Lut: He said to his people: Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds. And his people gave no answer but this: they said, “Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!”" (Qur’an 7:80-82)

“Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)! They said: “If thou desist not, O Lut! thou wilt assuredly be cast out!” He said: “I do detest your doings:” “O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!” So We delivered him and his family,- all Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 26:165-175)

“Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant! But his people gave no other answer but this: They said, “Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!” But We saved him and his family, except his wife; her We destined to be of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)!” (Qur’an 27:55-58)

“And (remember) Lut: behold, he said to his people: “Ye do commit lewdness, such as no people in Creation (ever) committed before you. Do ye indeed approach men, and cut off the highway? – and practise wickedness (even) in your councils?” But his people gave no answer but this: they said: “Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth.” (Qur’an 29:28-29)

“If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (Reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way. If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 4:15-16)

Homosexuality in the Sharia

While there is a consensus that same-sex intercourse is in violation of Islamic law, there are differences of opinion within Islamic scholarship about punishment, reformation, and what standards of proof are required before physical punishment becomes lawful.

In Sunni Islam there are eight madhhabs, or legal schools, of which only four still exist: Hanafi, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Maliki. The main Shia school is called Ja’fari, but there are Zaidi and Ismai’ili also. More recently, some groups have rejected this tradition in favor of greater ijtihad, or individual interpretation. Of these schools, according to Michael Mumisa of the Birmingham-based Al Mahdi institute:

* The Hanafi school does not consider same-sex intercourse to constitute adultery, and therefore leaves punishment up to the judge’s discretion. Most early scholars of this school specifically ruled out the death penalty, others allow it for a second offence.
* Imam Shafi’i considers same-sex intercourse as analogous to other zina; thus, a married person found to have done so is punished as an adulterer (by stoning to death), and an unmarried one, as a fornicator, is left to be flogged.
* The Maliki school says that anyone (married or unmarried) found to have committed same-sex intercourse should be punished as an adulterer.
* Within the Ja’fari schools, Sayyid al-Khoi says that anyone (married or unmarried) found to have committed same-sex intercourse should be punished as an adulterer.

It should also be noted that the punishment for adultery requires four witnesses; by analogy, all schools, require four witnesses to the physical act of penetration for the punishment to be applied.But if otherwise any other proof is found through modern methods such as DNA testing or so the punishment can be implimented.

According to the modern Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s summary:

“The jurists of Islam have held different opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for zina, or should both the active and passive participants be put to death? While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements.” 2

History of Homosexuality in Islamic Societies

17th cent. painting of Mahmud and Ayaz (Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art). The love of the Sultan (in red) for his slave (in green) has entered Islamic legend as a paragon of ideal love.

The chaste love of men for youths has been regarded as something sacred in many Islamic socities, as reflected in the romantic love literature of Muslim Spain and in the Qur’an where Paradise contains beautiful male virgins. Occasionally, these literary praises extended to more carnal forms of desire, as can be seen in the poetry of Abu Nuwas and many others. In Islamic teaching, however, while homosexual desire and love might be accommodated, same-sex intercourse is prohibited as a violation of the natural boundaries set by Allah.

Early Islamic cultures, especially those in which homosexuality was entrenched in the pre-Islamic pagan culture, were renowned for their cultivation of a homosexual aesthetic. They reconciled their new religion using a hadith ascribed to Muhammad declaring male lovers who die chaste to be martyrs: “He who loves and remains chaste and conceals his secret and dies, dies a martyr.”

The result is a religion that allows love between those of the same gender as long as they do not have sexual intercourse. Ibn Hazm, Ibn Daud, Al-Mu’tamid, Abu Nuwas, and many others wrote extensively and openly of love between men. However, in order for the transgression to be proven, at least four men or eight women must bear witness against the accused, thus making it very difficult to persecute those who did not remain celibate in their homes.

The intended meaning of “same-sex intercourse” is sexual intercourse between two or more males, or sexual intercourse between two or more females. It does not mean the act of masturbation, nor does it have anything to do with nocturnal emissions, both of which are considered to invalidate wudu and require the Muslim to take a full bath or shower before his or her next prayer, but are not otherwise punishable under Sharia.
Homosexuality Laws in Modern Islamic Countries

Same-sex intercourse carries the death penalty in five officially Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, and Yemen. 3 It formerly carried the death penalty in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and in Iraq under a 2001 decree by Saddam Hussein. The legal situation in the United Arab Emirates is unclear. In many Muslim nations, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria or the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines or corporal punishment. In some Muslim-majority nations, such as Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, or Mali, same-sex intercourse is not forbidden by law. However, in Egypt gays have been the victims of laws against “morality”.

In Saudi Arabia, the maximium punishment for homosexuality is public execution, but the government will use other punishments, i.e. fines, jail time and whipping as alternatives, unless it feels that homosexuals are challenging state authority by engaging in a gay rights movement. 4 Iran is perhaps the nation to execute the largest number of its citizens for homosexuality. Since its Islamic revolution in Iran, the Iranian government has executed more than 4000 people charged with homosexual acts. In Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban homosexuality went from a capital crime to one that it punished with fines and prison sentence, and a similar situation seems to have occurred in Iraq.

Most international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, condemn laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime. Since 1994 the United Nations Human Rights Committee has also ruled that such laws violated the right to privacy guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covent on Civil and Political Rights. However (except for nations such as Turkey that were required to change their laws to be eligible to join the European Union) most Muslim nations insist that such laws are neccesary to preserve Islamic morality and virtue. Of the nations with a majority of Muslim, only Lebanon has an internal effort to legalize homosexuality. However, some Muslims have expressed criticism of the legal sanctions used against homosexuality.

Reasons given by Muslims condemning the executions include: the fact that some legal schools (e.g. Hanafi) regard it as unjustified; the argument that the death penalty is not specified for it in the Qur’an; the idea that the punishment is unduly harsh; and opposition to the idea that the state’s laws should be based on religion. The introduction of the AIDS pandemic in the Muslim world has also promoted more discussion about the legal status of homosexuality as the legal sanctions against homosexuality have made it difficult to intiaite any educational programs directed at high risks groups.

While executions and other criminal sanctions curtail any public gay rights movement, it is impractical to give criminal sanctions to all homosexuals living in a Muslim country, and it is common knowledge (to foreigners visiting a Muslim country) that some young Muslim men will experiment with homosexual relations as an outlet to sexual desires that cannot be met in a society where the sexes are often kept segregated. These discreet and casual homosexual relations allow men to engage in premartial sex with a low risk of facing the social or legal sanctions that would occur if they involved in adultery or fornication with a woman that might result in a pregnancy. Most of these men do not consider themsleves to be gay or bisexual.

A related problem to full enforcement of the laws against homosexuality is that while the sexes are often segregated, men are encouraged to developed close friendships with other men, and women are encouraged to develop close friendships with other women. Also, the Islamic law requires a certain number of male and female witnesses to the homosexual act to testify in court. Islam does place a strong value on the right to privacy in the home and thus homosexual relations that occur in private are theoretically outside the bounds of the law, although that is more theory then reality.
Liberal Islamic Stances on Homosexuality

Some self-described liberal Muslims accept and consider homosexuality as natural, regarding these verses as either obsolete in the context of modern society, or point out that the Qu’ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love. However, this position remains highly controversial even amongst liberal movements within Islam, and is considered completely beyond the pale by mainstream Islam.

Would You Rather Be Gay in Uganda or Israel?

Until about a week ago, the last time anyone thought about Uganda was either (1) never or (2) to convey a generic far away place that you would never want to visit. It’s sort of like saying Timbuktu but sounds way smarter. Now, in a fiery fit of gay rage, the relatively tiny nation (roughly the size of Michigan) has attempted to compensate for its small size by stirring up homophobic hubbub. It’s already a world leader in illiteracy – desiring to become part of a not-so-secret society of nations that punishes gays with the death penalty is just one more feather in Uganda’s unsightly African floral headwrap.

The bill, proposed by MP David Bahati, adds Uganda to that list of other places you would never want or are currently barred from going to like Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates. Coincidentally, most of those countries are ones where Jews wouldn’t feel terribly welcome either. Sure, it’s all fun-and-games shopping for Dolce in Dubai until someone gets stoned to death for showing their sugar daddy a little gratitude.

Normally, when crazy countries (see: Iran) make generic threats, members of sane societies create useless Facebook pages with impossibly long, almost incoherent names like “Ahmadinejad is a terrorist tyrant. Bring peace to the Persian people now. Join to help us reach over 1,000,000 members.” But despite the similar onslaught of fruitless Facebook pages rising up in virtual condemnation against this latest humanitarian crisis, it indeed appears that Uganda’s rogue government isn’t just interested in having an international dick-measuring contest. For the first time in its 47-year history, Uganda actually seems serious about instituting social change. Naturally, in a country where 75% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, it couldn’t be for something truly good. Instead, Ugandan parliament members (with the staunch support of – who else? – Evangelical groups) have drafted legislation that would broaden the scope of what is considered illegal homosexual behavior. People with HIV/AIDS, who have prior convictions of queer conduct, and/or get caught in same-sex acts with those under 18 years old would be subject to the death sentence. As if that weren’t enough of a human rights violation, Uganda will also go after gay expatriates and individuals or organizations that support LGBT rights there.

It may come as a shocker that gays even exist at all in a country where raggy shmattes rule the roads. There are, however, an estimated 500,000 sexual minorities who call Uganda home.

At first glance, this whole setup doesn’t scream special, but there are several factors that make the Ugandan case unique. First, there are key players from the American Evangelical movement – namely, Scott Lively, author of the literary masterpiece 7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child, “healed” ex-gay Caleb Lee Brundidge, and hetero conversion missionary Don Schmierer – that have allegedly contributed to these political developments through their travels and live talks. They’ve said they don’t condone the bill and claim they didn’t know about the implications of their so-called holy work in Uganda. At least it’s likely that one of the three will be caught cruising the bathroom stalls at the Minneapolis International Airport.

Second, Uganda’s religious composition is drastically different from the usual suspects of LGBT human rights violators worldwide, because it doesn’t have a Muslim majority. In fact, Uganda is overwhelmingly Christian with over 85% of the population identifying as either Roman Catholic or Protestant.

Third, Uganda has a curious place in Jewish history (yeah, Hebrew school skipped over that one, because it’s actually interesting). Once upon a time, the British Uganda Plan called for the creation of a Jewish state where ass-fucking fun is now poised to be punishable by death. It was a far better deal than the Nazi scheme to ship the Jews off to Madagascar, but one thing is clear: if the current state of affairs in Israel is any indication, gays would have been freely prancing around a Judeo-African oasis – and with at least a marginally better sense of style.

But, sadly, not all is sweet in the Land of Milk and Honey. Last year, Israel’s reputation was tarnished after a masked gunman waged war on an LGBT center in Tel Aviv. And in 2005, Jerusalem’s relatively somber socio-political pride parade was marred when an orthodox male stabbed three participants. Israel’s black hat Haredim have long been aggressors against sexual minorities both physically and politically feeling more commonalities with their Christian extremist counterparts than most of their Jewish brethren. In a rare instance of cross-religious cooperation, they’ve even joined forces with the Holy City’s Christians and Muslims to ban pride marches in Jerusalem altogether – who knew that anti-gay discrimination was what it took to bring people from different religions together? Still, while Israel has to contend with its own share of gay drama, it’s reassuring to know that gays in Israel can, among other things, qualify for couples’ benefits, serve in the military, and see a drag show. To think, all of that happens in a country founded by people from socialist Eastern Europe and the most intolerable parts of the Arab World.

Uganda’s homo hate bill is scheduled for a vote before parliament in late February or March. Until then, the best that gay Ugandans can hope for are a few meaningless Facebook pages and the off chance that Madonna or Angelina Jolie will be back on the market for more African babies. Luckily, some open-minded Jews are doing what they can: AJWS is already raising funds to help and support gay people in Uganda.

Gay in Dubai

“This one gooood for your eye-bags!? says the effeminate Filipino makeup salesman, holding up a tube of concealer to his tittering female colleague in what is obviously a catty form of affection.

In the five minutes I’ve spent in Sephora browsing men’s fragr-ances, I’ve seen him touch up his face powder and smooth his heavily arched eyebrows twice.

Nothing unusual here, you might think. I mean, there are fey gay men working in makeup concessions the world over, right?

What makes his behaviour stand out is that I’m in Dubai, a province of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) governed by a dictatorial royal family, and a Middle Eastern hotspot attracting the gaze of the world. Like Las Vegas, Dubai was built in a desert from nothing and, like Vegas, Dubai (in the Arab world anyway) is known as sin city.

Despite being conservative by Western standards, this is the city to which alcohol- and sex-hungry Arabs flock in droves to get their fix, including the gays. Not that gay sex is anything unusual in the Arab world. Growing up, the women are shut away, so budding sexual desires are commonly sated between friends.

I arrived in the city during the height of summer almost three years ago to take a section editor job at a large fashion and celebrity magazine. My friends back home in London joked about my forthcoming years of celibacy and, though I laughed along with them, my bravado faltered as the plane touched down on the tarmac of Dubai’s airport.

From the outset, I’m under no illusions about Dubai’s official attitude to homosexuality. Soon after arriving, in order to secure a working visa, I’m tested for HIV. And, at my publishing company, I’m told in no uncertain terms to avoid using gay references within features which, when writing about fashion and celebrity, is particularly difficult.

However, while on the surface conditions for gay Dubaiians might seem bleak, thanks to some quickly acquired gay friends I learned that, despite the legalities, a vibrant gay scene flourishes.

In fact, thanks to a huge population of young professional expats, the scene is one of the most multi-cultural and diverse around.

I make my first visit to the city’s most popular gay club, Submarine. Entering through a small, dark underground car park on a Thursday evening, my friend and I encounter the uneven door policies that are common in gay venues (a vague attempt to curb gay activity). Men arriving solo or in all-male groups pay more, queue separately and are often denied entry altogether.

Inside, the place is packed to the rafters with a United Nations of men: butch Lebanese and their Asian playthings mingle with trendily dressed Europeans, all gyrating together, creating a sea of bulging biceps and tank tops. A Syrian man moves close to me on the dancefloor before whispering “Touch my cock.?

Passing on that offer, I quickly meet an equally forward New Zealander working as crew for Emirates Airlines (where a large portion of the city’s gay contingent works).

Despite the fact that the UAE employs strict censors to prevent access to pornography and dating websites, an easily downloadable program that bypasses censors means that sites such as Gaydar and Manjam are extremely popular methods for hookups.

Still, gays in Dubai can’t afford to let down their guard. Every so often, the authorities will do something to bring them sharply back to reality. For example, a recent book festival in the Middle East banned a British author because her novel contains references to homosexuality.

Several years ago, Dubai’s first publicly advertised gay night (featuring a drag act from the UK) resulted in the closure of the club hosting the event. And, for a period of time, police patrolled the plethora of Dubai malls, searching for “obvious? signs of homosexuality.

According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, consensual gay sex in Dubai is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, although punishment can be more severe if defendants are charged under Islamic law.

Yes, Dubai has become a gay mecca of sorts in an area of the world rife with intolerance. However, like many things in the city — the slave-like treatment of construction workers, for example — everyone knows about it, but nobody makes it “official.?

Arab Homophobia, Poverty, Religion and Forbidden Sex

23 December 2009

Westhampton, MA – October 18, 2009
Richard Ammon – GlobalGayz.com

According to a new UN report presented in Tunis, Tunisia, on October 20th, Tunisia, Libya and United Arab Emirates are the only 3 Arab nations where famine has been eradicated. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations conducted the survey of 17 Arab states ahead of a global summit on hunger, malnutrition and food security, set for November 16th-18th in Rome. (There are a total of 25 Arab nations, ranging from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east. Iran is considered Persian not Arabic.)

arab_men_kissing

Certainly this is good news for a few but overall for the majority of the 325 million people in that swath of earth, it’s not. Poverty and hunger are ills that should be resolved by good governance and grass roots organizations to relieve the problems. But these two ‘plagues’ persist in the majority of Arab countries as governments don’t appear to take the suffering of their own people seriously. Leaders would rather buy weapons and tolerate corruption than cure misery.

And it’s a curious fact that these same impoverished lands are also among the most homophobic cultures on the planet–in addition to Jamaica. The range of attitudes and treatments in these countries runs from stigma and rejection to actual death penalties.

Is there any common thread between these two phenomena, between deprivation and discrimination, between the anger within poverty and the anger at homosexuals?
(Photo right: traditional friendship kiss)

Deprivation breeds anger in it victims; deprivation is cruel and unusual punishment for no justifiable reason and renders a victim helpless and hateful. Since an individual can’t strike out against something as amorphous and complex as a government it is more convenient and available to strike out against something particular and local, such as a person caught being sexual with someone of the same gender.

As well, these Arabic countries are also Muslim countries which interprets Islam’s holy scriptures in a way that urges people to condemn and scorn homosexuals. This religious condemnation legitimizes expressions of anger, which ordinarily is suppressed by authorities. But gays represent a legitimate target for this displaced anger and the reaction toward them is often excessive and harsh or murderous (some call it ‘spiritual violence’) – even to the point of an honor killing of a family member to redeem family’s shame for have a homosexual among them.

As if privation and religion are not enough drivers of violence, there is another urge against homosexuality in these Arab/Muslim cultures. This is the well-documented ‘open secret’ than many, if not a majority, of pre-marital men experience their first sexual contact with other males.

Usually this natural drive has to be shrouded in privacy, denial and guilt, oppressive forces that evoke silent resentment at having to hide what should be a thrill. Instead it becomes a shame; what should be pleasure is turned into anguish at desiring carnal intimacy. And for genuinely gay Arabs their sense of self is clouded and punctuated with fear and self-doubt.

(That said, not all male-male erotic activity is private: see this CNN video on boy sex slaves.)

At a certain pitch of anguish and frustration all these negative feelings can sometimes be expurgated, purged, by turning individually or in a group to verbal or physical violence against an actual or alleged homosexual who is found out or suspected.

It is a very sad entanglement of poverty, helplessness, social anger, religious conditioning, family shame and personal guilt (or any one of these) that drive homophobia into the blind recesses of most Arab minds.

And it’s not just male homosexuality. In a recent book from Arab Jordan, Bareed Mista3jl, one lesbian recounted this most painful experience of enraged homophobia from her own father:

My father has a bad temper. One day a girl came back home with me after school. We were sitting on the floor of my bedroom kissing. My father walked in on us, did not say a word, and asked the girl to leave. Then he beat me up with his fists and his belt and his cane. “Shut up before I break my fist on your face…you animal…I curse the day you were born…’ I begged him to stop. I begged like I never thought I would beg in my life. I cried out please, please. I screamed with all my lungs. He screamed, ‘you will not learn your lesson unless I bury you. If I ever see you doing so much as looking at a girl I will pluck out your eyes and break your skull.’ I begged and pleaded. No human being should ever have to plead for anything, especially from her own father. It’s been eight years since. He broke so much more than my arm that day. Every time I remember the way I pleaded for him to stop, I start crying and can’t stop… (more about the book)

The rage of homophobia is the rage of deprivation, religious repression, secret shame, family dishonor. Overcoming such rage will take generations of defiance and courage and truth-telling. This is true of many societies around the world, not just the Arab world. Poverty and deprivation and repressive religions and homophobia are everywhere.

Gay in Saudi

27 November 2009

This is a fascinating article on the struggles gay men have in the Middle East. While there is increasing debate in Islam over the interpretation of the traditionally anti-gay passages in the Qu’ran in western countries, which parallels the battles over the Bible in Judaism and Christianity, none of that has happened in the Middle East.

Samir is one of the lucky ones. He can go abroad. Most can’t.

Saudi Gay Scene: ‘Forbidden, but I can’t Help It’

Across the Middle East, Many Struggle With the Stigma of Homosexuality
By LARA SETRAKIAN

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 25, 2009 —

For Samir*, a 34-year-old gay man living in Saudi Arabia, each day is a denial. He lives in Mecca, the holiest city according to Islam, and is acutely aware of the stigma that surrounds his gay lifestyle.

“I’m a Muslim. I know it’s forbidden, but I can’t help it,” he tells ABC News, clearly conflicted.

“I pray to God to help me be straight, just to avoid hell. But I know that I’m gay and I’m living as one, so I can’t see a clear vision for the future.”

Samir, like many gay men in the Arab world, guards his sexual orientation with a paranoid secrecy. To feel free he takes long vacations to Thailand, where he has a boyfriend, and spends weekends in Lebanon, which he regards as having a more gay-tolerant society.

But at home in Saudi Arabia, he is vigilant. Samir’s parents don’t know of his lifestyle. He says his mom would kill herself if she found out. They constantly set him up with women they consider potential wives. At work, Samir watches his words, careful not to arouse the suspicion of colleagues.

“You can’t let a word slip that makes you seem gay-friendly or gay,” he says. “Before you make a move you have to think.”

Samir occasionally goes to Saudi cafes known to be popular gay hangouts, but his public engagements stop there. He and his friends are constantly wary of officers from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the kingdom’s religious police, who patrol for and punish men they suspect of being gay.

Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but the charge calls for four witnesses to make a case. Arrests by the religious police are far more arbitrary. In a recent case they apprehended one man at a Jeddah shopping mall, suspecting he was gay from his tight jeans and fitted shirt.

“I’ve been invited to private parties for gay men in Jeddah, but I never go because I know what would happen if we were caught,” Samir told ABC News.

“Unless it’s a VIP house — if the party is at the home of one of the princes or one of the sheiks then you’re protected.”

In Saudi Arabia, where men and women are strictly separated, there is some space for gay life. Gay men can go cruising — a term for picking up partners — and socialize in male-only sections of cafes and restaurants. In line with sex-segregated social norms, gay lovers can often spend intimate time together without arousing suspicion.

But gays and lesbians in Saudi Arabia still need to accommodate the pressures of public life, in some cases pairing off to accommodate a freer lifestyle.

“There is a gay group of girls in Saudi looking for gay men to marry. It’s the perfect solution,” says Samir, adding that he wouldn’t mind a lesbian wife of his own.

Online Freedom but With Entrapment Risks

For Samir, the dozens of emerging Web forums for gay Arab men are a freer alternative to the offline Saudi society. I met him in one such forum, called Arab Gay Love, e-cruising for new friends and partners. Some of the users there surf with screen names that specify their sexual role: “top” or “bottom.” Among Arabs, it seems, a mix of stigma and machismo steers gay men toward the former.

“The more masculine you are, the more likely you are to label yourself as a ‘top.’ It re-enforces this feeling that you’re not really gay,” said Ahmed*, a gay Palestinian born in Kuwait. “They’re more comfortable with being tops, because it’s easier to negate the gay stigma.”

Gay Web Sites Blocked in Many Arab Countries

Web forums like arab-gay.com and manhunt.net are inaccessible in many Arab countries, blocked by state-run web filtering software. Using proxy servers men can get around the bans to the blocked sites, connecting with potential dates and building a knowledge base for gay life in the Arab world.

One blog from Syria, largely considered a repressed society, details a tourist’s guide to gay hangouts in Damascus and Aleppo.

“You could almost pick up guys everywhere, you just need to have a good gaydar. …There are four hammams in Damascus where you could play safely, but always be careful,” he writes, then listing the most popular “hammams,” or bath houses. He goes on to name the Safwan Hotel in Lattakia as “the most famous gay-friendly hotel in the region.”

From his home in Mecca, Samir can surf the web forums and Facebook groups that connect him to the gay Arab world. But he does so with care, fearing that authorities will follow and flag gay activity online.

“You cannot be safe and intimate online. … he government can track everything. If they have their eye on you, they can follow your every move,” he says.

If Samir’s approach seems paranoid, it’s conditioned by horror stories of harsh crackdowns by Arab governments on gay life. In Egypt, where police have systematically arrested and tortured suspected homosexuals, vice squads have logged on to chat rooms posing as gay men. Forming friendships under a false identity, the police set up an expected first date, then meet their “suspects” with a brutal arrest.

“I was waiting for that guy I chatted with on the Internet a couple of days before that day, right in front of McDonald’s in Heliopolis. & It was almost 1 p.m., when I found four big guys surrounding me,” one victim of police brutality told Human Rights Watch after being set up on a false date.

“I was fighting and yelling in the street. I was dragged, almost carried to the police car … taken to the station, the ‘Adab’ Section, which takes care of prostitution, raping and, recently, homosexuality.” Human Rights Watch documented dozens of Web-based entrapments — men arrested by Egyptian police then tormented with beatings, electrocution and anal examinations.

The vice squad’s practice of covertly hunting gay men in chat rooms cooled once the teeming gay Internet scene in Egypt slowed down. Fear and suspicion effectively shut down one of gay Egypt’s few free outlets. At one point online entrapment was yielding one arrest per week, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Web was part of a greater crackdown in Egypt, a country that was once a liberal environment for homosexuals. (One gay Palestinian who has studied Arab homophobia described 20th century Egypt as the “San Francisco of the Middle East.”) Social and authoritarian attitudes toward homosexuality began to change after the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, and grew steadily harsher through the 1990s as the secular state gave way to a growing Islamic puritanism.

Government-led assaults on homosexuals intensified in 2001. The pivot point was a mass arrest known as the “Queen Boat” incident. In the early morning hours of May 11, 2001, police raided a floating nightclub called the Queen Boat, a then-popular gay hangout moored on the Nile River. Suddenly surrounded by uniformed and undercover members of the Cairo Vice Squad, dozens of gay men were arrested, detained and tortured.

*Name changed to protect identity

Powered by Wordpress   |   Lunated designed by ZenVerse