Hostility towards homosexuality has deep roots in Islamic culture and tradition, and many Muslims believe that it constitutes a crime warranting execution. Saad asserts, however, that this attitude represents a blatant misunderstanding of Koranic text: “God,” he insists, “sentenced the homosexuals to death [at Sodom and Gomorrah] only after they refused his guidance.”Saad gained his insight by "pretending to be gay" and trolling a gay dating website to meet Egyptian men:
From Saad’s point of view, refusal to change is the true transgression – not homosexuality itself. He believes that every homosexual deserves a second opportunity to be straight.
“DON’T FORGET that homosexuals exist among those closest to you and need your help,” implores Saad as an author’s note in his first book, Shab Takaya, published by Al- Alamiya last month. (The title translates literally as “pillow boy” and is a derogatory term for homosexuals; the author uses it as a criticism of the society that stigmatizes them.)
The story begins when a young boy named Haytham is mysteriously found hanging from a rope in his room as part of what initially appears to be suicide. As the tale progresses, the novel’s nameless protagonist – a journalist like Saad himself, whose speech Saad says reflects his own views – seeks to uncover details surrounding Haytham’s death. Saad uses his protagonist’s journey to explore – and condemn – the treatment of homosexuals in Egyptian society.
Yet the extent to which Saad actually defends homosexuals remains a matter of interpretation, which explains why since the book’s publication, Saad has received threats and insults from heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. His book argues for societal acceptance of homosexuals and an end to stigmatization.
Nonetheless, Saad envisions an Islamic society that treats homosexuality as a curable illness. “Society has a critical role to play in treatment,” writes Saad’s anonymous protagonist, as “any disease, whether physical or psychological, demands support from society and especially from the patient’s close relatives.” Without “the right kind” of support, “the patient’s frustration grows” until he surrenders himself to the disease.
Convinced that their lifestyles are unhealthy and go against God, Saad said in a recent interview that most homosexuals would seek treatment if provided a supportive atmosphere and the opportunity to do so. As to the minority who refuse treatment because they believe in exercising what the West calls individual liberty, most can be disabused of such ideas, he argued. For the remainder, his words were harsh: “As Sodom and Gomorrah’s homosexuals were executed for failing to heed God’s words, so should homosexuals be ‘stoned to death,’ as decreed by Islam, if they refuse to change.”
“The homosexual does not live alone by himself in society,” asserted Saad, whose small build and reserved demeanor bely the determination with which he conveys his message. “If [a homosexual] is freely left to practice his sexuality openly and without shame, he endangers society in its entirety. He will influence children and infect them with his disease.”
Saad said he based his characters on what he saw and heard from people he met through manjam.com, a dating site popular among gay Egyptians. Since he could not present himself as a journalist because no one would agree to talk with him, he said he pretended to be gay himself – a deception he considered “the only way possible” to meet gays in person and learn about their lives.Sure, buddy - whatever you say.
(HT: Box Turtle Bulletin)