BY NATASHA BARSOTTI - The Daily Hürriyet reports that a gay Muslim man is seeking to open a mosque for gays in France.
Mohammed Ludovic Lutfi Zahed says he came to the conclusion that the new mosque, set to open Nov 30, was needed after performing the haj. He says men and women will be allowed to say prayers in the same space.
"In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf, and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression," Zahed told Hürriyet. He says the mosque will be housed for now in a Buddhist temple, adding that same-sex marriages will eventually be performed.
According to the report, Zahed says he began exploring Islam when he was 12; he was at first impressed by the Salafists in Algeria but eventually distanced himself from them because of "the terrorist attacks they performed."
"After my first night with a man, I realized that I was gay. I have found out that I had been pushing down my feelings with the help of Islam," he adds.
Zahed was married to his South African partner, Qiyam al-Din, earlier this year with the blessing of an imam. He hopes that the new mosque will help combat homophobia in Islam and Islamophobia in the French queer community.
France has been in ferment over the issue of same-sex marriage as François Hollande's government pushes ahead with a gay marriage bill that is up for debate on Jan 29. Hollande has come under fire from religious and other rightwing groups over the bill.
But Hollande is now also facing criticism from the lobby group Inter-LGBT after suggesting that French mayors could opt out of officiating at gay weddings, France24 reports. The bill is opposed by about 1,000 mayors, The Independent reports.
Hollande noted in a speech to a conference of mayors in Paris that they were obliged to apply the law if parliament voted to allow gay marriage, but he added that the "options for delegation to deputies could be widened."
The government stressed Nov 21 that it was not backtracking on legalizing gay marriage. Inter-LGBT says it's suspending relations with the government until Hollande explained "what at best can be termed a clumsy act and at worse, treachery."
Image: Al Arabiya