In the aftermath of the bloodbath created by Omar Mateen at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a plethora of opinions, ideas and causes have been spoken about. At the same time, a very disturbing picture about a specific aspect of this hateful ideology of Islamists has emerged. In my opinion, there is no doubt that Mateen was an Islamist influenced by the jihadist agenda of fanatic hate for the gay communities.
For those of us reform-minded Muslims who have been battling the rise in radical Islamist agendas for the past decade, this development is no surprise. In our declaration, we say right at the top:
"We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression."
Why did we include this line in our message? Because we know of the hate that is directed towards the LGBTQ communities in Muslim lands. In Iran, thousands of gays have been executed; in Afghanistan, the Taliban bury them alive; in Saudi Arabia they are liable for death, and in other Muslim countries they are persecuted and abused if they admit to the preference.
One can always say that this is happening out there someplace else. We in North American pride ourselves on freedom of expression and tolerance towards those following a different lifestyle. We would never expect hate against others to be promoted in a liberal democracy.
However, not everyone in Canada thinks as we do. In our own hometown of pluralistic Toronto, hate against the LQBTQ community is alive and well.
Abdullah Hakim Quick is a Toronto imam who writes on his website:
"I have always stood against racism and ethnocentrism. I have been a lifelong advocate of women's rights and for decades have encouraged the empowerment of young people. I pioneered the first social service agency for Muslims in Toronto, Canada (I.S.S.R.A.) whose doors were open to all -- rich and poor, Muslim and non-Muslim, gay or straight. As a counselor I learned first-hand of the terrible violence inflicted upon gay people by bullies and I publicly spoke out against it...."
Yet in a YouTube video, the same Imam Quick says:
"... they said 'What is the position of Islam on homosexuality?' -- they asked me this. This is a newspaper, right. So I said 'Put my name in the paper. The position is death.' And we cannot change Islam."
Furthermore, Quick goes on openly to ridicule the Toronto gay community known as Salaam Canada. Many of them are my friends and I respect them. They have suffered at the hands of Islamists and felt they were safe in a city like Toronto. Not so anymore, and my heart goes out to them.
Mr. Quick then goes on to connect being gay with Zionism -- his anti-Semitic sentiments at their best. All this while standing at a pulpit. If this is not a crime of hate, then what is? Does this imam have nothing positive to speak about in his sermon?
The point is that not only is he lying on his website, but he is spreading the Islamist agenda of hate and bigotry. He is also spouting an opinion that is not in the Quran. While the Quran (like other Abrahamic scriptures) does not condone homosexuality, there is no injunction to kill gays. However, because he is an imam and an imam is supposed to be knowledgeable, no one challenges him. Therefore, his opinion on gays (derived from sharia and concocted hadeeth perhaps) is that death is the solution for gays.
He's not the only one. Not long ago, Florida religious scholar Shaykh Farrokh said gently but with conviction in a speech "death is the sentence. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. Death is the sentence." He goes on to explain that killing gays is an act of compassion.
Why then do we act surprised when the Omar Mateens of the world take up arms and ruthlessly gun down an entire group of gays? This is what they are being taught by the likes of Imam Abdullah Hakim Quick. They are acting out the hate that has been instilled in their minds and hearts.
For years, we have warned of the messages of hate emanating from the pulpit. We have spoken of the two different messages being given -- one to the public and one in private. Well, we live in a world where the two are meshed and the culprits need to be exposed. It is time Muslims knew what their religious leaders are saying and promoting from the pulpit.
Is this what we want our youth to hear? If not, what are we doing about it?
Raheel Raza is President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.