“As a Muslim gay man, I find it hard to understand how people can commit such acts in the name of my religion,” 33-year-old Shauket Ali tells Queerty. “My religion teaches love, peace and tolerance.”
Ali currently lives in the U.K., but his parents are from Kashmir in Pakistan. Like the rest of us, he was absolutely horrified when he learned about the bloodbath in Orlando. But he would like to remind everyone, specifically members of the LGBTQ community, that last weekend’s terrorist attack is not representative of Islam as a whole.
As a Muslim gay man, Ali is regularly subjected to hatred from all sides–from members of his own community, the larger LGBTQ community and even ISIS. But he is determined not to let the unending bigotry he experiences prevent him from spreading his message of tolerance and acceptance.
Scroll down to read what he had to say…
QUEERTY: What was your first thought when you heard about the shooting in Orlando?
ALI: I hate to say this, but my first thought was: It is going to be a Muslim guy? I watched the news unfold throughout the day. Then, as I predicted, the attacker was a Muslim who had phoned the local police department pledging allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu bakr Al-baghdadi. Then video footage started to appear across the Internet of what happened inside the Pulse nightclub, along with screen shots of text messages of people trapped in the club sent to loved ones saying goodbye. One such message that has been stuck in my mind since it happened was the ones Eddie Justice sent to his mother just before he was murdered in cold blood. I can’t imagine what this brave man was going through while texting his mother his final goodbye and what she must have endured knowing her son was being murdered in the name of my religion.
What was your second thought?
After processing what had happened my second thought was: When is the blame going to start? Almost straight away it came. Lots of anti-Muslim hate being said online, Donald trump gloating about how he was right all along. I think when people start attacking Muslims and calling us crazed jihads and Islamic extremists it’s because it’s easier to use hate rather then to try and understand us.
What about when gay people specifically make those kinds of remarks?
The gay community has fought long and hard for the rights we have now. Not so long ago we could be jailed for being gay and we couldn’t be married to the person we loved. Why has the LGBTQ turned on all of Islam because of the actions of the few? Gay people know what it feels like to be discriminated against, so why are they doing it to the entire Muslim community?
You identify as gay and Muslim. A lot of people don’t understand that dichotomy.
Yes. I am gay and I am Muslim. A lot of people don’t think we exist or, if we do, we hide it away, which a lot of young Muslim people do because many are scared to speak out. I have had many experiences from being gay and Muslim. Death threats on a weekly basis, getting homophobic abuse from random people I don’t know sending me messages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Some of those attacks come from people claiming to be members of ISIS.
The threats came from ISIS when I hash-tagged #gaymuslim in some of my tweets, saying I was proud to be gay and a Muslim. I am very active within the online community in getting ISIS accounts on Twitter and Facebook taken down. Tweets come through from various people claiming to be members of ISIS saying I’m going to be killed, I can’t be a Muslim and gay. I am very proud to be a Muslim and gay and I refuse to be silenced by people who say they follow my religion by killing people.
How do you respond to them?
I am very thick-skinned, so none of this bothers me. Am I scared of Isis? Not in the slightest. I reply back even when I know I shouldn’t. I feel like I need to defend my religion against people from within the Muslim community and outside as well.
If you could say anything to the members of ISIS on behalf of LGBTQ Muslims, what would it be?
I would say: Whatever you’re doing is not in the name of my religion, or for majority of good Muslims out there. What you do is for your own distortion of my religion and how you think Islam should be. You do what you for your own evil agenda and it has nothing to do with Islam.
And what is one thing you would like to say to members of the larger LGBTQ community about Muslims?
The only thing I would like to say to members of the LGBTQ community is to remind them that they know how it feels to be discriminated against. Must we, the entire Muslim gay community, fight the same way as you did for your rights just because of the actions of a few people? As a Muslim gay man, I find it hard to understand how people can commit such acts in the name of my religion. My religion teaches love, peace and tolerance. But if I lived under ISIS law, I would be thrown from the tallest building in Raqqa, and if I survived that I would be stoned to death. If these people carry out attacks on members of the LGBTQ community, it’s not in the name of my religion.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I will leave you with a quote from the Quran, which I think sums up what happened in he night club in Orlando and I hope you bear this in mind when you think about Muslims and Muslims who are members of the LGBTQ community:
“..if anyone killed a person, it would be as he killed the whole of mankind; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind….”
The Holy Quran Chapter Five, Verse 32