Johann Hari just tweeted about his article, ‘Can We Talk About Muslim Homophobia Now?‘. I tweeted back, ‘@JohannHari What do you mean by ‘now’? This was echoed by Gary Younge who joined in with his tweet: ‘Johann It implies ‘we’ weren’t discussing muslim homophobia before. But ‘we’ were. Alot. It’s hardly been taboo’.
And that is the point: it is not new or brave to discuss Muslim homophobia. It is what everyone does, whether – by the way – you are gay or straight and whether you in fact care about gay rights. It is not that we should not be outraged about violence against gay people, it is that the fact that some Muslim people have been violent against gays is used as another stick to beat all Muslims with in the current climate.
Johann Hari obviously cares about gay rights, but that does not mean that his message cannot be boiled down to: all Muslims hate gays and therefore should be discriminated against. This may not be the intent of Hari’s article, but it is its not altogether undesired outcome. When he says, ‘In the Netherlands, they now show all new immigrants images of men kissing, and if they object, they tell them they should go and live somewhere else. We should be doing the same’ he is pandering to argument that liberal values need to be protected by illiberal means. The conflation between ‘Muslims’ and ‘immigrants’ hardly needs mentioning.
When he says, ‘I believe British Muslims can change. I believe they can accept and love their gay children, just as surely as my parents – who also grew up in horribly homophobic places – accepted and loved me’ the civilizing mission that he has embarked upon could not be clearer. Do Muslims, and gay Muslims in particular, need Hari to ride in on his white horse to save them? Clearly not.