Alex Blaze

Park51 Senior Advisor Says Gay People Were "Overwhelming"ly abused

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 27, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media, Politics
Tags: homophobic behavior, Imam Abdallah Adhami, islam, Manhattan, Muslims, New York City, park51

An imam who was brought on board as a senior advisor for the Park51 project in Imam-Abdallah-Adhami.pngManhattan (the Islamic community center that was demagogued through the election season last year that we haven't heard much about since, for no reason at all) has some views on gays that he recorded and are now being broadcast on the local news:

An enormously, overwhelming percentage of people struggle with homosexual feeling because of some form of violent emotional or sexual abuse at some point in their life. Again, not necessarily in their childhood....A small, tiny percentage of people are born with a natural inclination they cannot explain. You find this in the animal kingdom on some level as well.

I'm sure Imam Abdallah Adhami has lots of data to back up his claims, including extensive, scientific studies of gay people, before coming to this conclusion.

Considering that Park51, according to their "About" page, is supposed to "weave the Muslim-American identity into the pluralistic fabric of the United States," who knows the other project leaders' stances on gays. The "pluralistic fabric of the United States" includes gay people as well as homophobes, but the latter has a tendency to crowd out the former. One would hope that an organization devoted to bringing people together wouldn't exclude LGBT people, Muslim or otherwise, because of some bad science.

His views aren't uncommon, violent, or even too extreme compared to some of the other stuff we hear people say; just this morning I posted about Ted Haggard who used to say the same thing (he even discovered that he repressed memories of sexual abuse by an employee of his father... several days after he was discovered to be frequenting a male prostitute). I'm just getting less tolerant of people blaming someone else for their own homophobia, and in this case Adhami chose to blame bastardized science instead of bastardized religion. Maybe this will get a public discussion going.

Also, one wonders what the American right is going to do with this. They don't much like either Muslims or gays, but, contrary to what many liberal straight folks think, conservatives generally come down on the side of gays, arguing that Christian homophobia is good for us while Islamic homophobia is bad for us. This is mainly because conservatives still think gay people are all white, or at least American, so we're seen as part of the tribe. Perhaps we're tribal members who've gone astray, or who shouldn't be around the children, but at least we're folks who, when push comes to shove, realize that the world is organized as a Holy War and it should be obvious to us that Christianity is the better side.

On the one hand, this might make for some hay; on the other, the election is over so there's not much need to talk about the Islamic community center. So who knows. I'm not in the business of predicting stupid.

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Huh... Wasn't this a topic of debate several months ago when Bilerico was telling it's followers we need to "stand with the Muslims" and help fight the good fight to make sure they get their inclusive mosque in NYC? And a few people were (rightly) speculative that they may not be the most pro-gay group on the planet?

While this is probably the least violent anti-gay thing I've heard from an Imam, it's still quite anti-gay. Glad to see my expectations were met...

First, I don't recall anyone simply writing we've "got to stand with the Muslims." I think it's fair to say that even a relative outsider would agree the conversation was far more nuanced than that.

Secondly, a statement like the one above would only make sense if we agreed that this one organisation - indeed, this one man - represented all Muslims as a group.

If we are to continue with such broad characterisations, let's look at every single board of every single organization in this country and start making broad statements about oh, all white people, say, based on what oh, Rush Limbaugh has to say about, well, pretty much everyone except other white men.

Or, perhaps, given the intense Anglophilia that persists in this country around the Royals, let's, for instance, consider that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were anti-semites who were friends with Hitler, or that Prince Philip has been notoriously racist, as was the Queen Mother and so on. And let's then dismiss all Anglicans/Brits as racist anti-semites.

And so on.

What we know about this man does not invalidate the need for support of the community centre (it's not a mosque, was never intended to be a mosque), an issue which is wrapped in more than just the support of a Muslim institution but which speaks to dangerous precedents for all kinds of institutions everywhere - including, I'd like to point out, the possibility of a gay centre near such "hallowed space." What was that about...they'll come for us next?

And perhaps it's worth remembering that lots of Americans are also Muslims, and that lots of America Muslims are also gay.

Really? I recall differently. There was quite a call for "solidarity" with this particular group, as well as Muslims as a whole. If you read the thread, you'll see me in the comments making this exact counter argument. I said "when it comes time for them to help us, they often are the worst oppressors." Sadly, this proves my prediction.

Sorry, but when you say "What we know about this man does not invalidate the need for support of the community centre" I disagree. We're not talking about a parishioner or someone attending services. We're talking about a person who is the leader of this sect, who will have direct say over what happens at this "community center". Do you think a gay person will be welcomed there after what this owner/leader has said? I don't. Why would I try to fight the good fight so a group can put up a community center that will explicitly deny access to me and those like me? Or worse, will preach intolerance or backward decades-old disproven pseudo-science to promote the idea that I/we can "change"?

No, I'm no condemning all Muslims. You're the one reading that into what I'd said. There are plenty of Muslims that are more tolerant. Just as there are Christians that bless same sex unions, and Catholics that use birth control.

But lets be honest. The vast majority of Muslims (even in the US) hold an even more extreme view on homosexuality than this imam. Counties run by Sharia law, based on Muslim teachings, execute homosexual people regularly for merely being homosexual. It's not just "coincidence" that they happen to be Muslim, the persecution they unleash is directly linked to their faith.

Yes, and the vast majority of Christians are intolerant of queers and would beat them up at the slightest opportunity.
The vast majority of white people would like to see an to affirmative action.
The vast majority of gay men would like to continue whitewashing gay history of its trans origins and pretend that HRC or something like it actually began the riots at Stonewall (so goes the history presented by Frank Rich, certainly).

You see how easy it is to make generalisations, based on some verifiable facts (a number of Christians do in fact advocate the killing of queers etc.)

Homophobia is not intrinsic to Islam, just as it's not intrinsic to Christianity. As an atheist, I'm not going to rush to protect either major religion from its own foibles. But...the day gays concerned about Islamic homophobia and making sweeping statements about how Islam is intrinsically homophobic decide to protest *any* Catholic church *anywhere* because so many, many church leaders have engaged in child sexual abuse AND mouthed homophobic comments AND designated women as second-class citizens who don't deserve sex education or the right to abortion...well, we'll talk then.

Religion is religion - it's an easily manipulable set of dogmas or, for some, it's something that provides way to think through issues of the world. Phrases and sentiments like the one above betray little knowledge and a great deal of Islamaphobic paranoia - stripped down to their basics, they're little more than: those hordes of Muslims would take us all down!

I'll also add this: As Alex and others have pointed out, the problem with this Imam is that he's willing to use broad generalisations based on pseudo-science (if it can even be dignified as such) to justify an untenable position.

It's far more than grimly ironic that so many gays are willing to first castigate people like him for his wilful manipulation of the facts and generalisations - and then proceed to do exactly the same by deriding Islam as an intrinsically homophobic faith, "the vast majority" of Muslim people as homophobic etc.

Sorry... But you're barking up the wrong tree here. When >90% of those that follow a religion hold a belief, it's part of that religion. If there's a small minority of a religious group that don't follow something the majority does, they're called a sect or a cult. We have separate names for sub-groups for just that reason.

You're talking about a faith that's has "laws" still followed in this day any age that condemns adulterous women, and gay people in general, to death by stoning. In may places where they're in control and/or in the majority, it's still carried out. It's not just a small percentage of followers following these laws, it's the vast majority of them. It's great that there are exceptions, but until the majority of them stop killing people for being gay, I'm not going to show up at a rally to help them or send a check to help their community center, which is what was being asking in the post I linked above.

I've got less problems with Catholics because I don't see places running on Catholic law that are calling for the deaths of gay and lesbian people. Their worst punishment is "excommunication", which can be harsh in some places. And that doesn't mean I'm going to support or defend Catholics either, as many past posts will witness. As for gays standing against Catholic pedophile priests, it's out there. Check out SNAP some time if you'd like a sample.

Where you're getting this nonsense about gays trying to "remove the trans roots" of our movement from I don't know. I doubt there's a person that's heard of stonewall that doesn't know the ones that started to fight back were of the drag, trans, and fems among us. If you can find gay folks that don't know/believe that, I'm willing to bet it's not >90%. I'm also willing to bet they're not killing people to convert them to their way of thinking. The same can't be said for Islam.

I understand what you're saying. I totally get that saying followers of a faith are such-and-such is not accurate. But when a vast majority of a group hold a belief, and enforce those beliefs on others through force and/or death, I feel it's ok to point that out.

If you want to label me a bigot or anti-Islam, or what not for doing so, go right ahead. Frankly, I don't care what you think of me. What I do care about is reminding people that "sticking together" with another group because we're "both minorities" isn't always the best way to do things. Especially when that minority would kill all of us if they were to be in control. (And I base this not on some "irrational" belief, but by looking at places where they are in control and/or in the majority, and routinely kill people like us simply for existing.)

90% - where do you even get your numbers from?

As for the bit about trans-washing - um, I would read what I wrote carefully before you raise that again. But then, I suspect, irony is not a strong suit in these parts.

Seriously, if you're not going to bother a) verifying/ backing up your broadly generalised bigotry and b) even bother directing your comments at the right people, I'm not going to bother engaging with you.

Have a fab day.

I don't know of a single religious institution that has ever been told it cannot build in the US because of the homophobic statements of its leaders. To the contrary, such statements generally help raise funds to get those buildings built.

Nor do I think there's much serious debate about whether the community center can be built in the end.

Interesting question for the gallery: We complain all the time about the Oppression Olympics, but could we be setting up an Oppressor Olympics here by saying we prefer our homophobia coming from Good Christians?

I would be just as against helping the group if they were a Christian group that was anti-homosexual. If WBC were trying to build a "community center" there, I certainly wouldn't be fighting to allow them to. They want it, let them fight. Good odds they'll win in the end, since that's the nature of our country. I can agree that it's right, and that they have the right to do it, but still not want to join in on their side (unless it looks like they're really losing).

While they're fighting each other, they're not fighting us. Any time we can play bigoted hate filled people off of each other is less time we have to spend defending ourselves from them.

If as a kid you saw two bullies fighting in a school yard, and knew which one was probably going to win in the end, but both were about equally bad, would you try to go stop the fight? Or would you let them duke it out, knowing that the more time they spend fighting each other, the less time they have to come after you? And the less you'll have to deal with them while they recover from their fight.

I think that's part of the issue here - lots of us still see ourselves as kids looking over their shoulders for schoolyard bullies.

The adult world can be mean, but what protects us from such bullying isn't fidelity to any group or hatred of another, but support of basic rules of engagement and an environment that doesn't condone discrimination, violence, or exclusion.

As you point out, they'll be allowed to build there (whether they do in the end is another question) and most people think that they should be allowed to rent the property and do what they like. There wasn't much of a controversy there, the only controversy was whether we should all moan about it as well. Now that the election is over, most people have stopped talking about this project. The connection between that mentality and that which often gets used on LGBT issues is fairly clear.

Also, in the interest of the facts, I see you're in another thread saying that Abdallah Adhami is in charge of Park51. He's not, he was just brought on board as an advisor.

On the later part, you're correct. I did mis-read and overstate his role. Though frankly, an Imam being asked to advise probably means he'll be involved in some pretty major decisions, and probably will be involved in a preaching role as well. So most of my concerns still stand.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we should stand out front and picket with WBC against them having the center. I'm just saying there's no need for us to counter-picket WBC either. We should use that time (and I think we did) to make hay in other areas, and promote our own "agenda" while they're distracted.

This whole thing really comes as no surprise to me, just a confirmation of what I expected. Thus my confusion on why others are so surprised by what he's saying...

Who's suprised? Who here has written anything on the lines of, "OMG, I can't believe this Muslim cleric has said this!" Unless you mean that it's no surprise that this muslim man and ANY other Muslim person would say such a thing - which is, to put it bluntly, a point of bigotry.

Rather, we're all urging a rational response, which is: it's a terrible shame that a man with such beliefs should be in an advisory capacity to a center that is already embattled and which has consistently made the case for an "inclusive" and multidimensional space.

Violent emotional and physical abuse at some point in my life? Yep!

Oh wait, that was for already being gay. That doesn't count in his mixed up idea cause-and-effect thing.

Hey, wait a minute! Let's look at the statements one at a time:

An enormously, overwhelming percentage of people struggle with homosexual feeling because of some form of violent emotional or sexual abuse at some point in their life. Again, not necessarily in their childhood....

More street myth than good science, for sure.

Now, to continue:

A small, tiny percentage of people are born with a natural inclination they cannot explain.

He also says:

You find this in the animal kingdom on some level as well.

If you are willing to say that 4% to 10% is a "small, tiny percentage" then each of these last two is a statement supported by good science -- and a statement I can agree with.

The connotation of disapproval is the most objectionable aspect here -- actually, this imam is opening his mind, considering that he was probably taught as a child that gays should be executed. This imam doesn't need to be attacked as much as he needs to be taken out for a cup of coffee (or whatever).

By the way -- the LGBT community must support and defend the free religion rights of the Muslims regardless of whether a particular group of Muslims are anti-gay or pro-gay. This is America, and basic rights are (with rare exceptions clarified by case law) absolute.

Christian homophobia is good for us while Islamic homophobia is bad for us

That is about the crux of the argument, isn't it?

Not to argue with you, Bil, but to me, the crux is more like "Christian anything is good for us and Islamic anything is bad for us." The homophobia contradiction is both a symptom of such thinking, plus being a handy political tactic.

Adhami, like all religious leaders, is not particularly bright. Religion is a safe haven for those unable to function productively in society. (And for child molesters.) Trying to work with or educate imams, preachers, priests, ministers and rabbis is an exercise in futility. They get paid for promoting hatred. They're the enemy. For them, bigotry is just another commodity, like blessing sacrificial goats, promising pie in the sky and commending the wealthy for their 'charitable' deeds.

Religion is the enemy.

Religion is madness.

Religion is humankinds greatest tragedy. Racism, sexism, homohating and rule by the looter classes are all enabled by and intertwined with religion.

islam is a collection of cults just as backward as their christer and judaist cousins. That said, it's clear that while islam is not a race, Islamophobia is racism and Islamophobes are racists. Islamophobia, which was created to give cover to Bush1's wars to murder muslims and steal their oil, is most definitely racist and just as dangerous as any other form of racism. Obama's military colonialists in Iraq and Afghanistan promote racism to cover their mass murder of civilians.

The proof is in the death counts. Americans need to wake up and smell the napalm and get active in the antiwar movement. The Bushes, Clinton and Obama and their military have murdered over a million Iraq and the death toll is still rising steadily and it's skyrocketing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier, Clinton and NATO twiddled their thumbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina as "over 200,000 Muslim civilians..." were "... systematically murdered. More than 20,000 were missing and feared dead, while 2,000,000 had become refugees... Sarajevo soon became known as the city where Serb snipers continually shot down helpless civilians in the streets, including eventually over 3,500 children." That's a terrible racist toll, unless of course, you deny the humanity of muslims and Arabs.


muslims had their own genocides in Armenia and very recently in Darfur and continue to murder GLBT folks in Iran and Iraq, where the US colonialist military command turns a blind eye and refuses humanitarian aid.

Religion is the enemy, etc.

Mr. Perdue, I'd caution you to please be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Is religion the real problem ... or is it mindless fundamentalism that is the real problem?

Last time I looked, John Shelby Spong, Marrianne Williamson, Louise Hay, Richard Gere and the current Dalai Lama were not running around creating havoc and bloodshed in the world -- although I must admit that folks such as MLK, Mandela and Gandhi do rock the boat in major ways.

I would say there are some forms of religion we need more of, and many that we need less of.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 28, 2011 2:02 PM

I say that anything based on beliefs in thundergods, skypixies, motherships, the need to sacrifice innocent goats or the 'received word' from on high just can't be good for you. Especially if it comes with careful instructions to include $19.95, plus taxes, shipping and handling when purchasing salvation, prosperity, and absolution from current and future sins.

Here are some people who disagree with your religious view of the utility of cultism:

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." Benjamin Franklin

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." Benjamin Franklin

"My own mind is my own church." Thomas Paine

"The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity." John Adams

"What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy." James Madison

Nevertheless, it's perfectly fine to allow cultists to support LGBT struggles as long as they understand that proselytizing and recruiting to their freely chosen and usually bizarre lifestyles is out of the question. We can't afford to be associated with reactionary nonsense.

So apparently, Bill, religion is divided into "fundamentalists" and "cultists"? With nothing that falls outside both those categories?

A "cult" is a group that follows a central leader, or a central group, without being allowed to question the leader(s) or express dissent. For many of the religious leaders I named previously, independent thought and willingness to question is one of their strong points. Your label of "cult", therefore, might be a handy rhetorical attack, but I find it to be totally invalid.

Say what you want, but you have no more right to criticize the proselytizing activities of others than I have to criticize your proselytizing -- and I would charge that your comments herein are as much pro-secularist proselytizing as they are a mere stating of opinion.

As for the quotes you supplied ... well, good for Ben Franklin and the others for having their own thoughts on things and the courage to express them ... but the quotes prove nothing, and in like manner, I don't need them or you to seek to dictate to me what to think. You know the old saying about everyone having an opinion.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 28, 2011 8:56 PM

Cults are groups of people who adopt lifestyles, often bizarre, based on superstition.

Most cults are homohating and those who aren't are still guided by superstition. We can accept their help but nothing else. To associate ourselves with superstition would be a death blow.
No one would ever take us seriously.

Interesting definition, but I see problems -- under your definition I would have to conclude that certain trains of thought, such as secular humanism, for instance, would also qualify as a "cult".

We might wish to agree with an abstract notion such as "People basically are good and seek to be good" but it would be difficult to prove such an assertion scientifically. Of course, first we'd have to agree on a scientific definition of "good" -- and since science is supposed to be value-neutral, that might prove difficult. It might be self-evident to the vast majority of scientists that it would not be a good idea for the human race to go extinct -- but this is a value judgment that the scientific world accepts, it cannot be proven scientifically. In fact, the planet Earth could continue to orbit the sun just fine without us, and many lower species would be better off without us, too -- in fact, probably most of them! If an assertion is agreed to be self-evident, when is it objective and when is it a "superstition"? Superstition itself is subjective.

Trying to work with or educate imams, preachers, priests, ministers and rabbis is an exercise in futility.

The religious folks aren't the only exercise in futility that I sense in this comment thread -- but it's been fun sparring with you, Bill. Remember, just for today, try not scratching your rear end until after you have proven scientifically that it really does itch.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 29, 2011 1:43 PM

I wasn't sparring.

I was explaining why superstitious sects within the main cult groupings create people whose freely chosen lifestyles range from silly to murderous.

leapin' leopard | January 28, 2011 1:19 AM

so, I'm wondering just how many case histories this 'imam' did? He knows not whereof he speaks.
Seems his belief is more pathological than any 'normative' homosexual could ever be.
Thank gaia I'm not normal.

Once again, I find it hard to understand why liberals are so enamored with muslims. Oh, I know, they're not Christians, which is seen as a boon of course, but come one, wake up! Muslims hate gays, plain and simple. Sure, this is a generalization, but it's not as far off as saying they subjugate women. Why liberals think this is the kind of plurality we want in our country I'm not sure. While you're at it, open your arms to the white-supremacists.

It's all about "respect my religion, but I don't respect your society".

Try finding a gay bar in any Saudi Arabia...they'd sooner cut off your head.

I think the reaction to the Park51 project last year was pretty much "open your arms to the white-supremacists."

Amen! ... er, I mean, "You betcha!"

>"Try finding a gay bar in any Saudi Arabia"

Far easier than one may think:

What's really interesting is that a lot of isn't really homosexuality in the western sense, but truly just behavior. Due to the strict gender segregation it's far easier to have sex with someone of the same gender.