Showing posts with label Mosque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mosque. Show all posts

September 13, 2018

Berlin Gay Friendly Mosque Deradicalizes Young Muslims

Berlin Mosque


 LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Tugay Sarac was just 15 when he first talked about traveling from Germany to Syria to fight for Islamic State. But unlike his friends at the time, Sarac had turned to radical Islam as a way of avoiding coming to terms with his sexuality.

 “I had friends who, like me, were really radical extremists and even considered going to Syria or to Palestine to fight,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a quiet corner of the prayer room of Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque. 

Now 20, Sarac, who was born in Berlin to a Turkish family, learned from an early age that homosexuality was wrong - and un-Islamic. “I thought being gay is bad and that through Islam, by praying to God, I could cure myself and become normal. 

I started praying five times a day: I just felt bad, like I was dirty or inferior somehow ... I was really ashamed of my gay thoughts.” More than 5,000 Europeans - most from Britain, France, Germany and Belgium - have joined fighters in Syria and Iraq, according to Europe’s police organization, Europol, with more than 200 continental attacks and foiled plots last year. 

Studies suggest a range of motivations, from supporting fellow Muslims to feelings of alienation at home. Yet Sarac was not looking for a greater sense of Muslim solidarity – he was running away from the fact he was gay. “I knew I liked boys from maybe the first class of primary school,” he said. “(But) in Islam for me it was very clear that homosexuality was bad.” 

It was only when Sarac came across the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque - one of only a handful of gay-friendly mosques around the world - that he found a middle ground that allowed him to accept both his sexuality and his faith. 

As Sarac found himself drawn into the life of the mosque, its liberal, inclusive form of Islam drew him away from his more fundamentalist views and helped him come to terms with who he was. “This mosque helped me to deradicalize completely,” he said. “Coming here, I started being comfortable with myself and that’s when I told my mother and my aunt (that I was gay).”


LGBT Muslims are frequently required to make a stark choice between their sexuality and their religion, even in liberal countries such as Germany where same-sex marriage is legal.

Xenophobia and tensions are on the rise in Germany, which is home to about 4 million Muslims - about 5 percent of the population - since it opened its doors to more than a million migrants in 2015, many from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Following a spate of attacks on mosques, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in March that Islam does not belong in Germany, clashing with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s multi-ethnic vision for Europe’s biggest economy. 

Sarac’s father, who moved to Germany at the age of six, boasted of beating up gay people when he himself was younger and made his views of homosexuality very clear to the young Sarac. 

“My father was rather traditional, not in an Islamic way, but in a Turkish way,” Sarac said. “When my little sister was born, I just wanted to hold her buggy and walk with her. But my father slapped my hand and said, ‘Stop doing that, it’s gay’.”
His father died when he was just 13 – leaving Sarac even more vulnerable to radical views, while also battling to suppress his sexuality at school “because as a teenager – as teenagers normally do – I just fell in love with other guys”. 
Which is why when his friends started talking about becoming jihadis, Sarac readily joined the conversation – to deflect any questions on his own sexuality. 
“I was struggling between being a normal 14 or 15-year-old guy in Germany and being really religious. 
“My friends were very religious, very radical, and when they told me that they were considering going to Syria, I started thinking about it too.” 
But there were other tensions at work. 
One turning point was hearing a presenter on The Young Turks, a U.S.-based liberal news show, ask LGBT Muslims: “Why would you believe in a religion or a God if this God hates you, if this God will throw you to hell and let you burn forever?” 
Image result for berlin gay friendly mosque


When Sarac started worshipping at the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque late last year, his radical friends disowned him, but the mosque offered other opportunities to explore a more liberal form of Islam. 
Founded in June 2017 by Seyran Ates, a feminist lawyer who was born in Turkey, the mosque allows men and women to pray together. 
“We consider ourselves an inclusive mosque,” Imam Susie Dawi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Berlin. 
“We have no homophobic attitudes in any form here.” 
Yet even among liberal Muslims, there is much work still to be done, she said. 
“I have taken lesbian friends, for example, to Muslim friends and they’ve got along wonderfully and I thought that this would change attitudes. But it didn’t somehow ... Maybe it needs time.” 
The mosque has recently begun a deradicalization workshop for students to take into German schools. 
“The point is to open up people’s minds towards a more liberal understanding of Islam, for example by showing them women in different roles,” Dawi explained, rather than the traditional Islamic image of the subservient woman. 
“There is a female pilot, for example.” 
For Sarac, the mosque offers a chance for other LGBT Muslims not to repeat his mistakes. 
“I’m 100 percent sure there are many gay Muslims who hide themselves like I did,” he said, either becoming atheists or fighters with militant groups like the Taliban or al Qaeda. 
“If you are conflicted, it doesn’t make any sense to listen to one group who tell you are going to hell,” he said. 
“If we want gay Muslims to be happy, we should just open ourselves up and let them be gay (and become) a happy, working part of the Muslim community.”

June 20, 2017

In Berlin a Women’s Rights Activist Opens the City’s First LGBTQ Mosque

In the largely immigrant neighborhood of Moabit in Berlin, a prominent women’s rights activist opened the city’s first-ever LGBT, feminist mosque last Friday.
The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque meets in the third floor of a Lutheran church, which it has rented with money donated by Turks, Kurds and Arabs, the Associated Press reports.
Its first call to prayer was led by an American female imam. At the new mosque, men and women worship in the same room, and people of all genders and sexual orientations are welcome, the newswire reported.

German-Turkish lawyer, author and activist Seyran Ates (R) readies the prayer area prior to an inaugural friday payer at the Ibn Rushd-Goethe-mosque in Berlin on June 16, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

“This project was long overdue,” founder Seyran Ates told the Associated Press. “There’s so much Islamist terror and so much evilness happening in the name of my religion … it’s important that we, the modern and liberal Muslims, also show our faces in public.” Ates, a 54-year-old German of Turkish decent, is also a lawyer, and she is studying to become an imam herself. She has been an outspoken activist on domestic violence, honor killings and forced marriages.
That hasn’t always been a safe job; in 1984, when Ates was 21 and in law school, she worked at a counseling center for Turkish women. There, a furious husband shot her, nearly killing her.

German-Turkish lawyer, author and activist Seyran Ates (C- wearing white) is surrounded by media as she plans an inaugural friday payer at the Ibn Rushd-Goethe-mosque in Berlin on June 16, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

The near-death experience seems to have strengthened both her feminism and her conviction that Islam needed internal reform; in fact, in 2009, she wrote a book called Islam Needs a Sexual Revolution. 
The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque is aware that its progressive stance may attract more than just controversy, and it is coordinating on security with both the police and the state office of criminal investigation, Deutsche Welle reported. So far, Ates said, they have received no threats.

Muslims arrive for Friday prayers during the opening of the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque on June 16, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Getty Images)

Headscarves aren’t mandatory at this new mosque—and in fact, the burqa is banned “for safety reasons and because it is our conviction that the full-face veil has nothing to do with religion, but is a political statement,” Ates said told Der Spiegel.
This is the first time we post a story from Heat Street

January 30, 2017

5 Dead in Mosque Shooting in Quebec City, Two Arrested

File: Mosque in Bkln

The shooting at a Quebec mosque during Sunday night prays which reportedly killed five people was a "terrorist attack on Muslims", said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge," Trudeau said in a statement.

Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque, the mosque's president told reporters on Sunday. A witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center.

"Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” said the mosque's president, Mohamed Yangui.

Quebec police said there were many victims and deaths, but did not confirm the death toll. They said two people had been arrested, but there were no immediate details on the suspects.

A witness said a heavily armed police tactical squad was seen entering the three-storey mosque. Police declined to say whether there was a gunman inside the mosque at the time.

Police tweeted later that the situation was under control and that the mosque had been secured and occupants evacuated.

Yangui, who was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers. He did not know how many were injured, saying they had been taken to different hospitals across Quebec City.

"Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families," Trudeau tweeted earlier in the night.

The shooting came on the weekend that Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program and temporarily barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States on national security grounds.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said police were providing additional protection for mosques in that city following the Quebec shooting. "All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something," he tweeted.

Canada's federal Liberal legislator Greg Fergus tweeted: "This is an act of terrorism -- the result of years of demonizing Muslims. Words matter and hateful speeches have consequences!"


Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them North African emigrants.

In June 2016, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural center.

"We are not safe here," said Mohammed Oudghiri, who normally attends prayers at the mosque in the middle-class, residential area, but not on Sunday.

Oudghiri said he had lived in Quebec for 42 years but was now "very worried" and thinking of moving back to Morocco.


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Mass shootings are rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States, and news of the shooting sent a shockwave through mosques and community centers throughout the mostly French-language province.

"It’s a sad day for all Quebecers and Canadians to see a terrorist attack happen in peaceful Quebec City," said Mohamed Yacoub, co-chairman of an Islamic community center in a Montreal suburb. "I hope it’s an isolated incident."

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became a big issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.

In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of the province was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood. In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.

Zebida Bendjeddou, who left the mosque earlier on Sunday evening, said the center had received threats.

"In June, they'd put a pig's head in front of the mosque. But we thought: 'Oh, they're isolated events.' We didn't take it seriously. But tonight, those isolated events, they take on a different scope," she said.

Bendjeddou said she had not yet confirmed the names of those killed, but added: "They're people we know, for sure. People we knew since they were little kids.”

(Reporting by Kevin Dougherty in Quebec City; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington, Allison Lampert in Montreal, Andrea Hopkins and David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Peter Cooney)

New Information on the suspects:

Canadian police have named the two suspects who were arrested in connection to a deadly shooting at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada.
Quebec City court clerk Isabelle Ferland named the suspects as Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed el Khadir.
The two men allegedly opened fire at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on Sunday night, leaving six people dead.
One suspect was arrested at the scene and a second suspect called 911 to give himself up, police said on Monday.
Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Media captionA Muslim leader in the city says he is not surprised by the attack
Who are the suspects?
The two men, believed to be in their 20s or early 30s, had no prior police record before the incident, authorities said.
Police are also investigating reports that the two men were students at a local university.
The second suspect was apprehended in his car on a bridge leading to Orleans island, according to police.
Police have yet to give a motive for the shootings, citing an ongoing investigation.
Canadian authorities said they did not believe there were any additional suspects and they were confident that the threat was "under control".

August 24, 2013

Video of Fight that Breaks Out During Sermon at Riyadh Mosque

A Saudi cleric had been praying for the downfall of both Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Egypt's General Sisi. (File photo: AFP)  Al Arabiya
A fight broke out between Saudis and Egyptians attending prayers at a Riyadh mosque on Friday after a Saudi cleric was reported to have blasted Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during a sermon.
Pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat reported the incident at the al-Ferdous Mosque, while a 46-second videoof the fight went viral on YouTube showing a Saudi man taking off his traditional headdress and hitting another man, who was reported to be Egyptian.
According to al-Hayat, the Egyptian was initially angered when the Saudi cleric blasted General Sisi, the man who played a leading role in the overthrow of Egyptian Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in July.
The report said the Saudi cleric had been praying for the downfall of both Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and General Sisi, prompting uproar from the Egyptians who were in attendance.
An Arabic hashtag on Twitter “#Ferdous_Mosque_Fight" has attracted users on the microblogging site to voice their views on the incident, reported a blog post on Global Voices Online.
One Twitter user @iar_98, named Ibrahim al-Rasheed, wrote: “The people of Egypt are more knowledgeable of their affairs and it is of bad taste for this preacher to employ himself as a guardian over Egyptians.”
Others attacked the Saudi clergyman for talking politics.
“Next time, those praying should break the preacher's jaw so that he learns his lesson and stops including his political opinion in sermons,” a Twitter user posted.
Another user, commenting on the incident using the hashtag, said the violence was unacceptable.
“No to violence. Political differences should be peaceful, and resorting to violence and excusing it, by any side, is unacceptable.” @WaleedSulais posted.
“Cursing others is unacceptable and beating up whoever objects to that is vile. People have dignity,” he added.

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