Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed is making history by opening Europe’s first feminist and gay-friendly mosque. This mosque, situated east of Paris, welcomes the LGBTQ community and encourages women to lead prayer. So-called “inclusive” mosques exist in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa; but this is a first for the European continent.
In 2010, Zahed helped establish Homosexual Muslims of France, a society that seeks to defend LGBTQ rights. The association has grown from six members to over three hundred in only two years. Zahed expects membership at the mosque to quickly climb as well.
Recently, gay rights have become a hot topic in France as the government plans to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption. Just two weeks ago, thousands of people marched through Paris in support of gay marriage. The following day, a counter-protest took to the streets.
Zahed, married to a South African man since 2010, has attended the Grand Mosque of Paris until now. However, he wished to provide a worship environment for those who may not feel comfortable in traditional mosques, and insists that they shouldn’t feel ashamed of their sexuality.
In an interview with France 24, he said, “Some people say that there are no gay Muslims, and we want to say to them, ‘yes there are.’ There are lesbian Muslims who put on the veil [hijab] and gay Muslims who pray and go to the Hajj.”
The mosque opened November 30th for prayers, and it has received mixed reactions from the religious community. However, Zahed has already been pleasantly surprised at the number of positive responses and solidarity.
Images via homosexuels-musulmans.org and booknode.com