Saturday, March 18, 2006

Al-Sistani Issues Death Order For Iraqi Gays

In the U.S., the Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas has been leading controversial demonstrations at the funerals of fallen American soldiers from the war in Iraq, including several right here in Indiana. Phelps believes that the soldiers deserved to die because America accepts homosexuality and their death is a punishment from God. In a strange paradox, a Muslim cleric who American troops have enabled to become the most powerful religious leader in Iraq, has issued his own death order against gays and lesbians in Iraq.

Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has been a critical ally of American coalition forces in bringing about a so-called "democratically-elected" government in Iraq. The huge turnout in Iraq's recent elections is largely attributed to al-Sistani, who issued a decree that it was a religious obligation of Shiite Muslims to vote. After playing second fiddle to Iraq's Sunni Muslim population under Hussein, the Shiite majority now has the opportunity to call the shots in Iraq thanks to the sacrifices of American and coalition soldiers in the effort to liberate Iraq from Hussein's dictatorial rule.

With Iraq's new constitution recognizing Islamic law as superior to the civil law, Iraq will now enjoy a de facto dictatorship by al-Sistani. Exercising his new-found power, al-Sistani has issued a fatwa against gays and lesbians. The Advocate reports on the fatwa:

Written in Arabic, the fatwa comes from a press conference with the powerful religious cleric, where he was asked about the judgment on sodomy and lesbianism. “Forbidden,” Sistani answered, according to OutRage, “Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”

Considering Sistani's stature and influence within the Iraqi Shiite majority, OutRage member Ali Hili declared the cleric's statements extremely dangerous.

“Sistani's murderous homophobic incitement has given a green light to Shia Muslims to hunt and kill lesbians and gay men,” said Hili. “We hold Sistani personally responsible for the murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Iraqis. He gives the killers theological sanction and encouragement.”

If Rev. Fred Phelps' controversial funeral protests are not finding a sympathetic ear here in America, they certainly are in Iraq, and with the full blessing of Allah no less. Perhaps Rev. Phelps should be thanking these fallen soldiers for giving voice and power to an anti-gay bigot whose words are backed up with real violence against gays and lesbians. Somehow, we doubt this was an outcome our fallen soldiers in Iraq envisioned.

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