THE INTERSECTIONS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA AND LGBTIQ+PHOBIA

12 SEPTEMBER 2016

10:00 – 17:00

09:30 – 10:00 – Registration

10:00 – 10:15  Opening

Identifying main challenges and opportunities:

I Contemporary discussions on Islam and human dignity

10:15 – 11:00

Amina Wadud: “Philosophical locations on the discussion of Islam, gender diversity and human dignity”

11:00 – 11:45

Arnold Yasin Mol: “Islam and Human Rights Discourse”

11:45 – 12:15

Panel discussion Wadud and Mol

12:15 – 13:00

Lunch break

Identifying main challenges and opportunities:

 

II Exploring painful intersectionalities

 

13:00 – 13:45

Paul Mepschen: The intersections of Islamophobia and LGBTQIA+ fobia

13:45 – 14:30

Farah Abdi: “Beyond Islamophobia and Transphobia: Queer refugees in Europe” 

14:30 – 14:50

Panel discussion Mepschen and Abdi

14:50 – 14:15

Coffee break

Exploring synergies and forging alliances:

 

Queer Muslim narratives

 

14:15 – 15:00

Daniel Ahmed: “LGBTIQ+ activisms in contemporary Europe Queer Islam as a resistance movement”

15:00 – 15:45

Urooj Arshad: “Islam and LGBTIQ+ are not mutually exclusive – best practices from the United States”

15:45 – 16:10

Panel discussion Ahmed and Arshad

16:15 – 17:00

Closure and networking

 Amina Wadud, key note speaker

Title: “Philosophical locations on the discussion of Islam, gender diversity and human dignity”

Amina Wadud is an internationally known scholar on Islam and gender. She has lived in six different countries and traveled to more than 50 countries as a consultant on Islam, Human Rights, and Women. Dr. Wadud is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA and visiting scholar at Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective, (Oxford, 1999) and Inside the Gender Jihad: Reform in Islam (OneWorld, 2006).

Urooj Arshad

“Islam and LGBTIQ+ are not mutually exclusive – best practices from the United States”

 Arshad is the Associate Director of International Youth Health and Rights at Advocates for Youth. For 17 years Arshad has organized within GLBTQ communities of color, especially addressing issues of Islamophobia, violence, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ageism. She is a steering committee member of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), which seeks to address the intersectional impact of Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.

“As a community, we have provided countless workshops on the intersection of islamophobia and homophobia/transphobia, marched in pride parades to show our visibility, helped folks get asylum, provided spiritual counseling, and developed and advocated for scholarship that looks at Islam in the context of LGBT-issues. We have built retreat spaces that bring together LGBT Muslims to discuss spiritual life, religious texts, anti-oppression; and yes, we even had a speed dating event this year.

Most importantly, we have changed the discourse that looks at LGBT Muslims as if they are non-religious, somehow outside the realm of mainstream Muslim life, somehow not impacted by Islamophobia, somehow not quite able to be both LGBT and Muslim. And as we continue to change the discourse, I am proud of how much the movement has grown and truly reflects the LGBT Muslim community.”

Arnold Yasin Mol

Title: “Islam and Human Rights Discourse”

Arnold Yasin Mol studies Islamic and Religious sciences at Leiden University (The Netherlands), and a lecturer of Islamic studies at Fahm Institute (www.fahminstituut.nl) in The Netherlands and Tariq Ramadan’s CIET (www.ciet.be) in Belgium. He is specialized in theology, exegesis, and philosophy of law. His research centers on anthropological-theological constructs in Islamic thought in relation to ethics and human rights discourse. All his writings and publications can be found at: https://leidenuniv.academia.edu/ArnoldMol

 

“Islam saw itself as an ethical religion which incorporated both creed, personal orthopraxis, as well as a public legal order. In the 19th century it was this legal order, as sustained by the Ottoman empire, which was confronted by Western hegemony and was slowly mixed and replaced by Western legislation. In the 20th century, the UNDHR became the main international indicator of modernity and humanism and thé criteria for human rights discourse (as compared to earlier declarations and conventions). Islam, from a Western perspective, both in its personal orthopraxis as in its classical vision on public order, was seen as devoid, lacking or even counter to modern human rights discourse as compared to Christianity. The question is, what element of classical or modern Islam exactly is compared to human rights discourse, how is human rights discourse defined, and does Islam lack the foundations for human rights discourse? These questions will explored in this lecture whereby a case will be made for both classical and modern Islamic foundations of human rights discourse.”

Paul Mepschen

Title: “Sex, race, and religion in a ‘superdiverse’ Netherlands”

 Paul Mepschen is a lecturer in social anthropology at Leiden University and a postdoc researching sexual politics in Europe at the University of Amsterdam. Paul has recently defended his dissertation, Everyday autochthony, in Amsterdam (cum laude / highest honours). His main interests are (the interconnections of) nationalist, class, cultural and sexual politics in post-Fordist Europe. Paul is also interested in (left) populism, Marxism, and the future of the European Left.

“In recent decades the Netherlands has witnessed a remarkable shift in the social location of gay politics as they relate to the rise of anti-multiculturalism. LGBTIQ rights and discourses are employed to frame ‘Western’ Europe as the ‘avatar of both freedom and modernity’ while depicting Muslim citizens as backward and homophobic. Gay rights have been recast as an ‘optic, and an operative technology’ in the production and disciplining of Muslim others (Puar, 2007; see also Rahman 2014). Cases of homophobia among Muslim citizens are highlighted, epitomized as archetypal, and cast within Orientalist narratives that underwrite the superiority of European secular modernity. Homophobia is represented as peripheral to Dutch culture. In this talk, I will take the analysis of Dutch sexual nationalism as a starting point to look at the junctures of sexuality, religion, and race in debates surrounding the super-diverse and postcolonial character of the contemporary Netherlands.”

 

Farah Abdi

“Beyond Islamophobia and Transphobia: Queer refugees in Europe” 

Farah Abdi is a Somali refugee and award-winning blogger. Farah arrived in Malta from Libya by boat in 2012, fleeing fear of persecution. Farah is author of the autobiography ‘Never Arrive’ and a human rights activist. Farah is also the recipient of the International Bremen Peace Award by the German NGO, Stiftung die schwelle, and the Queen of England award for young leaders.

“I have been told many times by family, friends, colleagues and strangers; that I am a black, African, refugee, Muslim, trans woman; that I am outside the norms accepted by society. That my dreams are a reflection of my upbringing in a decadent amoral society that has corrupted who I really am. As a young trans African, I have been conditioned from an early age to consider my gender identity a dangerous deviation from my true heritage as a Somali by close kin and friends. As a young trans African coming of age in Malta, there was another whiplash of cultural confusion that I had to recover from again and again: that accepting my gender identity doesn’t necessarily mean that the wider Maltese community, with its own preconceived notions of what constitutes a ‘valid’ identity, will embrace me any more welcomingly than my own prejudiced kinsfolk do.”

Daniel Ahmed

LGBTIQ+ activisms in contemporary Europe Queer Islam as a resistance movement

Daniel Ahmed has a career in the areas of education and social work, and is specialized in gender and Arab–Islamic studies. He is widely involved in activism in the field of Islamophobia and sexual and gender diversity within Islam and is part of the Nasij network. He is currently doing a PhD on queer Muslim activism in Contemporary Europe at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

 

The intervention addresses the question of LGBTIQ+ activisms in contemporary Europe, focusing on the transnational queer Muslim network —queer Islam— as an example of the emergence of a questioning and resistance movement with regard to the following issues. Firstly, the hegemonic European discourses concerning secularism, Islamophobia, and sexual and gender diversity. Secondly, the LGBTQI+phobic discourses coming from misogynist and patriarchal interpretations of Islam. Contemporary Europe is understood here not as a geographical area but rather as an ideological space that facilitates the emergency of LGBTIQ+ activism —including those with a religious approach. However, in the particular case of the LGBTIQ+ Muslim community such space offers a resistance that makes evident an anachronistic perception of Islam as opposed to a set of values exclusively attributed to European modernity. This resistance materializes into discriminatory and racist strategies —like homonationalism or pinkwashing— that manipulate feminist and pro LGBTIQ+ rights discourses to criminalize Muslim population and increase islamophobia.