Toronto imam says he is a changed man despite homophobic comments on YouTube
An author who tries to fight hate in Islam says video is shocking, damage is done
A prominent Toronto imam who has signed two declarations against the shootings in Orlando appears on a recently posted YouTube video saying gay men should be put to death.
But Abdullah Hakim Quick, a teacher at the Islamic Institute of Toronto in Scarborough, said in a statement that he is a changed man.
"Many years ago I made hurtful comments against homosexuals for which I have apologized. My views have evolved over the years. I am fully committed to peaceful coexistence and respect among all people," he said.
"The video was made in 2000 and is totally unrepresentative of my present position," he added in a note after CBC News asked him for an interview, which he declined.
In the video, posted to YouTube on May 6, 2016, Quick says in Sydney, Australia: "So they said, 'What is the position of Islam on homosexuality?' They asked me this, a newspaper, right? So I said, put my name in the paper. The position is death."
Quick also talks in the video about counselling gay Muslim men.
"He came in the office and he said he was homosexual and he cried. So I said, brother, you know you're sick. He said, I'm sick. So we sent him to a Muslim psychiatrist, so he can work through his problem."
On his website, Quick says: "... nowhere have I made any inflammatory, Homophobic or Anti-Semitic statements."
Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an author who tries to fight hate in Islam, said the video is shocking and Quick's remarks dehumanize gay men. She said the comments do not reflect the teachings of Islam.
"It's an appalling video, it's shocking. We have a responsibility to not make statements that lead to violence," Raza said. "What right does one human being have, no matter what faith, no matter what religion, to condemn another person to death? This is at the core of this issue."
Raza said the belief Quick expressed in the video that gay men should die is not found in the the Qur'an. She says the Islamic holy book does not accept "homosexuality," but it does not condone violence against the gay community, either.
"If the imams are playing God," Raza said, it is disturbing and it shows that religious leaders may be the source of hate that is taught to young people. "No one is born a terrorist. No one is born a radical. Somebody teaches them and they teach them through hate. This is where it starts," Raza said.
If he is truly apologetic, she said he needs to make it clear where he stands on certain issues. "He needs to stand up and condemn the Sharia and armed jihad and all these radical notions from the seventh century, which we don't want to perpetuate in the 21st century.
"He may apologize but the damage is done."