Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Choosing silence

For the past few months, we've heard that Iran and Iraq may or may not be killing gays. This all started when we heard that two young men had been hung in Iran. Now, the problem was that two different reports surfaced: one said the young men were hung for raping a young boy, but the other said they were killed for being gay. For this reason, I've held off posting about this: I wanted to know more about the story.

There have been several reports now, though, and so I think we can all agree that something is going on, even if we can't know the full story. After all, as the link I just posted states:

Consensual gay sex in any form is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


And now look at this recent report from Page One Q:

Religious death squads are killing gays in Iraq, Doug Ireland will report in tomorrow's weekly edition of New York's Gay City News, PageOneQ has learned.

"The Badr Corps is committed to the 'sexual cleansing' of Iraq," a 33 year old gay Iraqi exile in London told Ireland. Since the SCIRI's spiritual leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistni -- the highest Shia religious authority -- issued a fatwa ordering gays assassinated in "the worst, most severe way of killing," the Badr Corps in Iraq has begun to use the Internet to hunt down and kill Iraqi gays. [link]


This sounds very reliable. Just look here:

Ireland's interviews include one with Tahseen, an underground activist in Baghdad, who is hiding 5 gays in his home and reports on the disappearance and killings of a number of gay men.


Now, have you heard about any of this in the local news? Have any politicians addressed it? I don't know about you, but I learned about all this through blogs.

Earlier today, I saw a report on CNN.com. This report said that a man in Afghanistan who converted to Christianity is facing execution.

Within hours, a new story was up: President Bush had heard about this man, and he was troubled:

"I'm troubled when I hear -- deeply troubled -- when I hear the fact that a person who has converted away from Islam may be held to account," he said.

"I look forward to working with the government of that country to make sure that people are protected in their capacity to worship."


and

He added, "It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because he chose a different religion over another."


Now, I feel concern for this man as well. It's appalling when a country restricts the freedom of its citizens.

At the same time, I'm deeply, deeply saddened by when the President chose to voice his concern. Did he speak up when gay men or women were being killed? No. He waited until his religion was threatened.

The thing that bothers me the most is the political-ness of this all. (Yes, I am making up a new word ... shush). I can't help but wonder: if the President had spoken up earlier, some conservative, Christian GOP leaders might have protested. After all, this country does not like gays. If he had spoken up, he might have implied that gay people deserve more rights, like, say, marriage or, I don't know, life. So in order to make sure that he didn't imply such a thing, the President didn't speak up.

The President is a self-proclaimed compassionate Christian. Where's the Christianity in refusing to protect those who need help? Where's the Christianity in this blatant disregard of life? Allegedly this President is a champion of life, but let me see some real evidence: speak up, Mr. President. Defend the lives of those who are killed for who they love.

Silence is a powerful, powerful statement. We cannot ignore when the President chose silence and when he chose words.

I, for one, am disgusted by this whole thing.

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