Manchester Imam defends execution of gay people
Manchester, England – 20 October 2006
Manchester's leading Imam has confirmed that he thinks the execution
of sexually active gay men is justified. Mr. Arshad Misbahi, who is
based at the Manchester Central Mosque, confirmed his views in a
conversation to Dr John Casson, a local psychotherapist.
Dr Casson said: "I asked him if the execution of gay Muslims in Iran
and Iraq was an acceptable punishment in Sharia law, or the result of
culture, not religion. He told me that in a true Islamic state, such
punishments were part of Islam: if the person had had a trial, at
which four witnesses testified that they had seen the actual
"I asked him what would be the British Muslim view? He repeated that
in an Islamic state these punishments were justified. They might
result in the deaths of thousands but if this deterred millions from
having sex, and spreading disease, then it was worthwhile to protect
the wider community."
"I checked again that this was not a matter of tradition, culture or
local prejudice. 'No,' he said, 'It is part of the central tenets of
Islam: that sex outside marriage is forbidden; this is stated in the
Koran and the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had stated
that these punishments were due to such behaviours.'"
"He told me that no Muslim would have spoken to him as I had done -
they would have been too afraid, ashamed or inhibited: he admired my
courage and openness."
Commenting on Imam Arshad Misbahi's views, Dr John Casson said:
"I support the human rights of all people peacefully to practice their
religion, including the right of Muslim women to wear the veil if they
choose. Equally gay men and women must enjoy the right to be
themselves without the fear of being beaten, killed or condemned by
homophobic religious people. These condemnatory attitudes have an
adverse psychological impact on lesbians and gay men, especially
lesbian and gay Muslims."
Gay and human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, of the gay rights
group OutRage!, added:
"It is disturbing that some British imams are endorsing the execution
of gay and lesbian Muslims.
"Imam Arshad Misbahi's homophobic attitudes give comfort and succour
to queer-bashers. They encourage conflict and disharmony between
Manchester's large gay and Muslim communities.
"Muslim and gay people know the pain of prejudice and discrimination.
We should be working together to challenge homophobia and
Islamophobia. I hope liberal Muslims will speak out in defence of the
human rights of lesbians and gay men," said Mr Tatchell.
Notes to editors
In July 2005, two gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari, aged 16, and Ayaz
Marhoni, 18, were executed in Mashhad, Iran. They had been kept in
prison for 14 months and given 228 lashes. They are two of hundreds,
possibly thousands, of gay people who have been flogged, jailed,
tortured and executed in Iran.
Dr John Casson has been a therapist in adult mental health for over 21
years, 11 of which have been in the British NHS. He is now in private
practice and trains psychodramatists in the Northern School of
Psychodrama. His doctoral research (1996-2002) was with people who
hear voices (auditory hallucinations).
The meeting between Mr. Arshad Misbahi and Dr John Casson took place
on Wednesday 11th October 2006 at the Central Mosque, Upper Park Road,
Victoria Park, Manchester. "My motivation for this meeting was to
encourage a dialogue on lesbian and gay issues with a representative
of the Muslim community," said Dr Casson.
For more information contact
Imam Arshad Misbahi 0161 224 4119
Dr John Casson 01457 877 161
Peter Tatchell 020 7403 1790