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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 6, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 19
Don't punish Gays, Saudi Muslim cleric says, let God do it
Section One
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Don't punish Gays, Saudi Muslim cleric says, let God do it

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A leading Saudi Muslim cleric has come out against punishment for Gay people.

Salman al-Ouda, a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and director of the Islam Today website, says that God will deal with Gays in the afterlife but human governments should not.

'Even though homosexuality is considered a sin in all the Semitic holy books, it does not require any punishment in this world,' al-Ouda said, as quoted in the English-language Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post. 'It is a sin that will accompany [the Gay person] in the life after death.'

Saudi Arabia punishes Gay people severely, with prison terms, flogging, and even execution, but al-Ouda is known as a critic of the Saudi royal family, even spending time in prison for anti-government activities.

He is not a liberal, however. In fact, he belongs to Al-Sahwa Al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Awakening Movement, associated with the fundamentalist Salafi Muslim ideology.

Salafis are Islamic strict constructionists, who claim to follow the traditions handed down from the first generation of Muslims who were personally acquainted with Muhammad. One of those traditions says that unless sinners reject God they remain Muslims, and therefore may not be killed by other Muslims.

'Homosexuals are not deviating from Islam,' al-Ouda explained. 'Homosexuality is a grave sin, but those who say that homosexuals deviate from Islam are the real deviators.

'By condemning homosexuals to death they are committing a graver sin than homosexuality itself.'

Nevertheless, Gays shouldn't be out, al-Ouda warned.

'Even though homosexuality does not distance one from Islam, Islam does not encourage individuals who have same-sex attraction to show their feelings in public,' he said.

In March, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that prosecutors in the kingdom are pressing the government to execute more Gay prisoners. They also want to proceed against 'cross-dressers,' the paper said.

According to Okaz, Saudi officials are worried about a surge in 'abnormal behavior' linked to social media, saying that people are becoming 'increasingly bold' about their so-called 'abnormalities.'

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