Irish imam stands by LGBT community

The head imam of the Islamic Centre Ireland said he stands with the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando shootings.

Shaykh Umar al-Qadri also told the Irish Examiner that the actions in Orlando on Sunday night, where 50 people were shot dead, did not represent Islam.

“I stand with the LGBT community and I am against the marginalisation of any group,” said Dr al-Qadri. “It should not have happened. We are a minority ourselves, we understand what discrimination is.”

On Sunday, Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire in a gay nightclub in Florida, killing 49 people and injuring 53 more. While the attack appears not to have been orchestrated by Islamic State, Mateen rang 911 claiming allegiance to the terrorist group.

“This is more of a case of someone with psychiatric issues. His wife came out and said he had some issues. He may be a Muslim but he does not represent Islam,” said Dr al-Qadri.

“The point is, first of all, 50 innocent people have lost their lives and it’s a tragedy.

“The disregard of human life is one of the greatest challenges we are facing in the world today. He may be a Muslim but he does not represent Islam,”

Dr al-Qadri is founder of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council as well as an Islamic scholar.

“Our religion teaches not to be prejudicial of anyone regardless of their religion or background,” he said.

“We are all diverse, yet we all share one thing — our common humanity.

“Being a member of the LGBT community is not a sin, it’s not something you find in the Quran. We can’t treat them differently.”

Commenting on the radicalisation of a minority of Muslims, through various terrorist organisations, he said these groupings have a “radical interpretation and view”, of Islam.

“The message we need to send out is that the majority of all communities want peace and we need to unite against these violent minorities, we must unite in peace against those who are violent,” said Dr al-Qadri.

“It is only through dialogue and understanding others that we can get rid of the prejudices that we have. Homophobia, as well as Islamophobia, are challenges.”

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, reacted to the shooting, the worst in US history, by saying: “We can’t let people in.”

He also reiterated his call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to America.

Dr al-Qadri said he has invited Mr Trump to his centre when he visits Ireland this month.

The imam told the Irish Examiner: “Trump’s comments are full of ignorance, he is marginalising people.

“I have said this before but he is more than welcome to our Islamic centre so that we can give him the message that we disagree with him but we need to get rid of the prejudices.

“The only way to do that is to sit down and engage.”

Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called Mr Trump’s comments “plain dangerous.”

Her communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, said Mr Trump used the shooting for political purposes.

At the White House, US president Barack Obama said: “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.”

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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