by Rachel Ogbu
Mohammed Ludovic Lütfi Zahed, an Algerian Muslim living in Paris is planning to open a ‘mosque for gays’ in France and hopes to eventually conduct same-sex Muslim marriages.
According to reports, Zahed, a homosexual man is married to his gay partner and hopes to open the doors by the end of the month. He also plans to break another Islamic taboo by refusing to segregate women and men.
Zahed says the mosque, in a Buddhist chapel in Paris, will be very different from the conventional mosque. “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. After performing the Hajj, I realized that a mosque for gays was a must for gay Muslims who want to perform their prayers.”
Zahed is married to Qiyam al-Din, a South African man. Zahed diagnosed with AIDS at 19, became very spiritual but reveals he regularly receives hate mail from Muslims globally, but added he is ‘comfortable’ in his own skin The pair married in South Africa where same-sex marriage is legal, and their marriage was approved by an imam in France, but was not recognised by the previous government as the French are bitterly divided on gay marriages.
Reports that the French President Francois Hollande plans to enact his ‘marriage for everyone plan’ within a year of coming to power in May is circulation but vocal opposition from religious leaders, some politicians and parts of rural France has sparked protests with an estimated 70,000 marchers.
Riot police used tear gas to break up violence between those who support and oppose the change in law.
As well as opposition from those against gay marriage, the couple will likely face persecution from the French Muslim community. Homosexuality is a religious, political and cultural flashpoint among much of the Arab and Islamic world.
Zahed told Al Arabiya News: ‘Being married in front of my family, was like a new start of life for me.
‘I could have never imagined such a day would come, seeing the joy in my parents’ eyes after they had battled with my sexuality and tried with all their might to change the course of my sexual orientation.’
He added that if his marriage is not recognised in France he will return to South Africa.