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n a time, when Islam is under tremendous attack-from within and without-'A Jihadfor Love' is a daring documentary-filmed in twelve countries and nine languages. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma has gone where the silence is strongest, filming with great risk in nations where government permission to make this film was not an option. A Jihad for Love is the first-ever feature-length documentary to explore the complex global intersections of Islam and homosexuality. With unprecedented access and depth, Sharma brings to light the hidden lives of gay and lesbian Muslims from countries like Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, France, India, and South Africa. The majority of gay and lesbian Muslims must travel a lonely and often dangerous road. In many nations with a Muslim majority, laws based on Quranic interpretations are enforced by authorities to monitor, entrap, imprison, torture and even execute homosexuals. Even for those who migrate to Europe or North America and adopt Western ... Written by
I met Parvez Sharma and some members of his cast and crew in 2001 at a local low-key fund-raiser hosted by neighbours in the Shaw neighbourhood of Washington, DC. He was a very mild-mannered man with deep sensitivity and insight.
At that juncture, the documentary - although completed in the raw - was still caught-up in the lengthy process of editing with a dire need of funding to ready it for a forthcoming film festival. Needless to say - the completed work - albeit not ready was shown in sections. It was quite obvious that the projected finished result was indeed going to be a very moving and telling testament to the "gay" lifestyle - especially within the Islamic Communities ... worldwide.
As I had met some of the featured personalities - I felt a certain connection with the sensitive nature of my homosexual friends and co-workers. My profession as a "straight" hairdresser places me in direct contact with the creative and sensitive - often highly emotional people - many sorely affected by the stigma attached to them. For many
an almost certain death penalty awaits them upon return to their
Over the past decade or so - where we have seen many outspoken men and women emerge from their secret lives within fanatical Islam - their heads bowed down in shame ... until ... courageous people such as Parvez Sharma decided to stand up and be counted - by disclosing their often unexplained lifestyles and their continued love and adherence to their religion.
As I stated, having been a hairdresser (socio-political/community activist) most of my life - along with long periods of detention within Moçambique and South Africa - I have often been on hand to witness the subcultures within unexplained internment - where helplessness, lack of courage, strength and self-esteem might well have pushed them into this often viewed "deviant" lifestyle - regardless of religious affiliation or depth of religious conviction.
Where there was a large number of Muslims - there too did homosexuality become commonplace - often with Muslim men connecting only with Muslim men. So, did we see many of these men cleave to their religion - often making salah or fasting during Ramadhan - steering clear of pork, drugs and alcohol.
One could not help but wonder - yet admire them for retaining a very intrinsic part of their culture - for often, in such ignominious surroundings do we see lesser beings succumb ... fall prey to more self-destructive practices ... even death.
It would indeed be interesting to uncover which is worse in the eyes of the fundamentalists within the Muslim world; the despised homosexual who may lead a somewhat deviant lifestyles - tolerated ... albeit frowned upon - for regardless of their sexual proclivity - yet do they love and adhere to most of the tenements of their faith or alternatively - those "free-thinkers" who make their own assessment of certain situations - contrary to the vapid condemnation of the Jamaat-ul-Ulima who's role it is to enforce draconian misogynist doctrines of Sharia Law - fatwa's included? Here we have feminists, communists, socialists ... people of conscience ... murtad one and all ...
That said; which is more perverse - to love another of one's own gender
or to kill innocent people with impunity - all in the name of
furthering one's sectarian faith - whether it be Islam or Christianity or Judaism or upholding one's traditional culture - at all cost? For those Muslims who freely condemn - advocate the issuing of fatwa's upon those who drift away from the heralded "chosen" path - I say open your myopic eyes and educate yourself by attending a screening of this very poignant documentary. Then, and only then will you be qualified to opine, reject or condemn if you so choose - the evidence in this very touching documentary.
To Parvez, what can I say but Shukran/Motehshakeram ... Mubarrak ...
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