This previous Sunday, I had the honour of marching as a member of our native Muslim contingent at Ottawa’s Capital Delight parade. Our numerous group included Muslims of all genders, orientations and from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Amongst us had been Canadians of South Asian, Somali, Algerian, Turkish, African and Caribbean descent. Additionally marching alongside had been a First Nations Muslim convert, a Muslim American convert and a Canadian feminine rabbi.
Our range didn’t finish there. All of us have households, and so we had been additionally a bunch composed of sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, moms, fathers, uncles, aunts and, after all, one sturdy, decided grandmother.
For members of a Muslim group the place the normal ulema, or non secular management, nonetheless frowns upon homosexuality, marching at Delight as queer Muslims and their allies have been doing in Ottawa for a number of years now (and as queer Muslims and their allies have completed in different Canadian cities, within the U.Ok., France, Italy, the U.S. and elsewhere) is an act of spiritual and political insurrection.
However the bravest hero in our group was largely unknown and, for essentially the most half, marched unnoticed for his braveness. He was our youngest member, the visitor of honour. His identify is Ahmed Alaa.
Final yr, 22-year-old Alaa was imprisoned by Egyptian authorities for unfurling the rainbow flag at a music live performance. Solely two years older than my oldest son, now he marched with us like some other 20-something in denims and a T-shirt, waving his rainbow flag proudly and safely, right here in Canada. As I gazed at Alaa, I considered his mother in Egypt. My coronary heart went out to her. His bravery got here with a worth, as a result of now she might by no means see him once more.
Nobody would ever have imagined that Alaa could be marching with us at Delight.
Again in October of final yr, he was in jail together with one other younger fellow activist, Sarah Hejazy, in addition to dozens of others. Quickly after their arrests, our group was contacted by LGBTQ activists from Egypt who additionally related with different organizations all around the world, in search of public consciousness and requesting we demand the Egyptian authorities free them.
Whereas Nabila Kaci of our group led the Ottawa protest and spoke in entrance of the Egyptian embassy in Canada, together with the help of Amnesty Worldwide, related protests came about at Egyptian embassies all around the world and in different Canadian cities.
Now Alaa and Hejazy discover themselves right here in Canada, hoping that as asylum seekers Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board will perceive the hazard they face if pressured to return to their house nation and that it shall enable them to stay.
We marched as a result of we imagine Allah loves us all — queer and straight, cis and trans.
And it’s for Alaa, Hejazy and tens of millions like them that we marched.
We marched for many who can not, these from international locations the place homosexuality is criminalized. We marched for many who have fled and sought asylum. We marched for many who are pressured into marriage and whose sexuality is considered an affliction.
We marched for these at house and overseas who’re targets and victims of homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Black Islamophobia, misogyny, racism and violence.
We marched as a result of we imagine Allah loves us all — queer and straight, cis and trans; as a result of we imagine trans and queer Muslims enriched Islamic historical past for hundreds of years; as a result of we imagine in an Islam that calls for actual justice, and that Muhammad our Prophet by no means penalized anybody for being homosexual. We marched to ship a message to others to not lose hope, and in order that someday they might be part of us.
Lately, the CRA revoked the charitable standing of the Assalam Mosque and Ottawa Islamic Centre, claiming it had invited audio system like Hakeem Fast and Bilal Philips, each of whom had made homophobic statements publicly prior to now to Muslim audiences. (Fast signifies he has modified.)
Whereas some, just like the Canadian Muslim civil liberties group the Nationwide Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), demand that we not decide the Assalam Mosque and Ottawa Islamic Centre “within the courtroom of public opinion,” it’s our hope that our conventional Muslim communities and teams like NCCM do extra to eradicate homophobia and transphobia in Muslim areas, and that mosques be inspired to ask audio system who present a protected and respectful place for LGBTQ Muslim group members.
In spite of everything, queer and trans Muslims have a lot to supply their very own communities.
As we marched within the Delight parade on Sunday, holding a banner that stated “Allah Loves LGBTQ,” Ottawans cheered. People smiled, clapped and a few, pointing at our indicators exclaimed — “YES!”
I overheard a person proudly say, “We even received Muslims!”
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On this period, the place else will we Muslims hear crowds cheering as a result of we’re Muslim? Delight!
As we turned a nook, we discovered the native Unitarian Universalists within the crowd, holding their banner, cheering loudly and waving at us. We Muslims fortunately waved again.
And after we reached the end line, whereas we stood within the crowd, we noticed our Jewish mates within the parade. Nonetheless holding our rainbow signal with the phrases “Allah Loves Equality,” we caught their consideration and yelled “Shalom!” As they waved again and smiled, they replied with a hearty “Shalom!” of their very own in response.
It was really essentially the most interfaith gathering in existence. It was a mirrored image of what we would like the world to be.
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