'For LGBT Muslims, the notion of safety has been shattered,' activist says
El-Farouk Khaki hopes the Muslim community addresses homophobia after Orlando tragedy
A leading gay Muslim activist in Toronto feels the Orlando massacre has "shattered the notion of safety for the gay and Muslim communities."
And that notion "has been shattered on multiple levels" for LGBT Muslims who don't feel accepted by either community, says El-Farouk Khaki, who founded the Unity Mosque, an LGBT prayer group in Toronto in 2009.
"For a lot of queer people, the bars are a place of safety," Khaki told CBC News Tuesday. "That's where you go to be yourself, to find community, to find safety."
Last Sunday, Omar Mateen went on a three-hour shooting rampage at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Forty-nine people were killed in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
American authorities said Mateen, who was killed by police, had previously been investigated by the FBI for links to extremist groups and may have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before the attack.
Two days before the mass shooting, the Unity Mosque held its annual Peace Iftar. Iftar is a meal that is eaten at the end of a day's Ramadan fast.
He said he hopes the Muslim community becomes more accepting of homosexuality in the wake of the tragedy.
"If they want acceptance and tolerance and their dignity respected and ensured, they need to be able to do that for others," he said. "Ironically, it's people of faith who forget those golden rules (of acceptance)."
Khaki said he is also hoping "there's going to be some understanding between the Muslim and LGBT communities, that they share similarities like marginalization, stigmatization and stereotyping.
He said many Muslims "came out of their Muslim closet and claimed that identity" after 9/11.
"I wonder if the Orlando massacre will have a similar effect, where more (Muslims) not only come out but people within the Muslim community come out as allies of the LGBTIQ community and the LGBTIQ Muslim community as well," Khaki said.