Saudi Arabia recently beheaded 37 men in a mass execution. Most were suspected spies and terrorists allegedly working on behalf of Iran, but one of the men “allegedly admitted to having sex with four of his co-accused ‘terrorists,’” reports Metro UK.
The executed men were part of the country’s Shia minority. Court documents accused the men of hating the Sunni sect, the state and its security forces. However, the accused “gay man” denied all the charges against him — his lawyer called his confession a fabrication.
Metro UK writes, “The executions were carried out on Tuesday in the cities of Riyadh, Mecca and Medina. One of the prisoner’s had his body and severed head pinned to a pole in a public square.”
Among the other executed men were Shiite religious leader Sheikh Mohammed al-Attiyah who preached for Shiites to work peacefully with Saudi Arabia’s Sunni majority. Two of the other men were arrested at ages 16 and 17 and detained for years in solitary confinement without access to lawyers.
Now ages 23 and 21, the first, Mutjaba al-Sweikat, was reportedly “beaten all over his body before ‘confessing’ to the crime of attending a protest in 2012.” The second, Abdulkarim al-Hawaj, “was accused of spreading information about protests on WhatsApp.” al-Hawaj was the youngest man killed in the recent mass executions.
Saudi Arabia has reportedly executed 100 people this year so far. The country’s supreme council of ultraconservative Sunnis clerics claim that Islamic law supports the executions, but their interpretation is actually an extremist one.
Muslims disagree over whether Islam forbids homosexuality
Muslim scholar Mehammed Amadeus Mack explained in Newsweek, Islam’s primary holy test, the Quran, says nothing at all about homosexuality. The main source of anti-LGBTQ Muslim religiosity comes from the ahadith, sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and his companions.
Some Muslims reject the ahadith because they “violate the completeness and perfection of the Quran.” Others view the ahadith skeptically and question their reliability as authoritative religious texts.
Mack writes, “It’s no wonder that many Muslims who identify as LGBT take the Quranist position and reject [the ahadith].”
Despite older acceptance of homosexuality in Middle Eastern historic art and literature, contemporary Middle Eastern homophobia was effectively imported by British and French colonizers in the 1800s and 1900s and made worse by the rise of Islamic Fundamentalist clerics who used homophobia as a way to stoke populist anger against “Western values” during the 1970s and beyond.