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Muslim leaders file complaint over ‘Islamophobic’ Pride in London banners

By Ross Semple

A group of Muslim leaders have complained to Pride in London about the inclusion of an ex-Muslim group who brandished ‘Islamophobic’ signs during last weekend’s parade.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) participated in the Pride in London march, and carried banners and placards with slogans like “F*** Islamic homophobia”, “East London Mosque incites murder of LGBTs”, and “Throw ISIS off the roof”.

The CEMB describe themselves as a group of “non-believers, atheists, and ex-Muslims” who are working to “insist that no one be pigeonholed as Muslims with culturally relative rights nor deemed to be represented by regressive Islamic organisations and ‘Muslim community leaders’”.

East London Mosque spokesperson Salman Farsi confirmed that a complaint has been raised with Pride in London over the group’s inclusion. He said: “We’ve raised a complaint with the co-chairs of the event that the group was inciting hatred against Muslims, and in particular [in relation] to our good name, based on absolutely groundless reasons.

He continued: “Our track record for challenging homophobia in East London is quite well known. For us to see such a mainstream event that is supposed to celebrate tolerance and love used as a hate platform was really quite shocking.

“Our religion doesn’t promote hatred or homophobia. Yes, there might be theological topics dealing with homosexuality in Islam, but that’s clearly very separate from promoting hatred and homophobia.”

Farsi has said that he has asked for an apology from Pride in London.

CEMB have responded to the complaint by stating that their reason for marching was to “combat hate and to highlight the 13 states under Islamic rule that kill gay men (14 if we include Daesh-held territories).

“We included placards on the East London mosque to bring attention to the fact that there are mosques here in Britain that promote the death penalty for homosexuality and apostasy.” However, there is no evidence to suggest that East London Mosque promotes the death penalty for homosexuality as the group claims.

They continue: “Self-appointed “Muslim leaders” say our placards were “Islamophobic”. But in our point of view, Islam, like all religions, is homophobic. Why is it not possible to say this without accusations of Islamophobia?”

“The only reasons our signs are seen to be “provocative” are because criticism of Islam is deemed to be impermissible, because there is the constant threat of violence by Islamists against ex-Muslims but also dissenting Muslims and others in order to silence and censor, and because criticism of Islam and Islamism is erroneously conflated with an attack on Muslims.”

A Pride in London spokesperson confirmed that the complaint had been received and passed on to the organisation’s advisory committee. The spokesperson told the Evening Standard: “If anyone taking part in our parade makes someone feel ostracised, discriminated against or humiliated, then they are undermining and breaking the very principles on which we exist. Our code of conduct is very clear on this matter.

“All volunteers, staff and parade groups agree that Pride celebrates diversity and will not tolerate any discrimination of any kind.

“While our parade has always been a home to protest, which often means conflicting points of view, Pride must always be a movement of acceptance, diversity and unity. We will not tolerate Islamophobia.”

Imaan, Europe’s biggest charity supporting LGBTQI Muslims, also marched at Pride in London. They shared their concern at CEMB’s signage and urged the group to work to end divisions between the Muslim and LGBT+ communities.

“While we understand the frustrations of the CEMB with regard to the perceived stance of mainstream Muslims on homosexuality,” said an Imman spokesperson. “Imaan feels that the banners that the group marched with serve only to deepen divisions between communities.

“As a charity it is our aim to support LGBTQI Muslims who want to find their place in the Ummah (wider Muslim community) and we extend a welcome to all parties who wish to resolve the LGBTQI-Muslim divide”.

Imaan’s Chair has also invited East London Mosque to meet with them in order to “combat the scourge of gay-phobia, lesbian-phobia, bi-phobia and transphobia”. Imaan also confirmed that CEMB have an invitation to any future events “to show that LGBTQI Muslims and Imaan are a well established community who continue to grow.”

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