iraq

A ‘Radical’ Shiite Cleric Wants Anti-Gay Violence to End. Can We Trust Him?

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Gays in Iraq are used to fearing for their lives, or at least their anuses. (That is not supposed to be funny.) But could an anti-gay “Radical Iraqi Shiite cleric” be their best hope for now?

Moqtada Sadr, 35, isn’t pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes: He thinks gays are disgusting. The fact that they are attracted to the same sex reeks of “depravity,” he says. But all this violence toward them? It must stop.

“Al-Sadr rejects this type of violence … and anyone who commits violence (against gays) will not be considered as being one,” says spokesman Sheikh Wadea al-Atabi.

What’s this? Rabid anti-gay religious types insisting his followers do not resort to violence against homos? Indeed. Rather than glue their anuses shut, or simply murder them, al-Atabi says “the only remedy to stop it is through preaching and guidance. There is no other way to put an end to it.”

Is this just lip service, or is Moqtada Sadr actually serious about condemning violence against gays? You won’t be faulted for thinking it’s just a press-friendly tactic; violence against Iraq’s gay and transgender communities is believed to be sanctioned at both the state and religious levels. Police have been tied to anti-gay violence, and so have religious fundamentalists.

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That, and Sadr is not the anti-violence type. In fact, the fella is infamous for his calls for violence; he’s a staunch opponent to America’s involvement in Iraq and “called anew for Iraqis to violently rise up against U.S. security forces. A U.S. helicopter was shot down in fighting that shattered a two-month ceasefire. Continued violence has left untold numbers dead.”

But for now, without the Iraqi government doing much to solve the problem, nor U.S. diplomats even addressing the situation, it appears the only real hope for Iraq’s GLBTs is, well, trusting Sadr and his legions are men of their word.