And one more thing: They’re homophobic.
In a video first reported by the Daily Mirror in April, a man it identified as a former professional soccer player describes the benefits of jihad. It’s the typical Islamic State recruitment video — an English-speaking adherent trying to bring fellow travelers to the cause.
On Tuesday, the Washington Blade took another look at the video, focusing on its anti-gay content. Toward the end of the video, an Islamic state fighter holds forth on children’s exposure to homosexuals in public schools.
“Who’s gonna teach your children?” the fighter says. “It’s gonna be maybe a gay, maybe a drug dealer, maybe a pedophile, you know? So it’s very important for you to protect your children from these animals, from these dirty people, Allah says that they are the worst of creatures.”
Amid the flood of objectionable rhetoric put forth by the Islamic State, its homophobia often goes unremarked upon.
“The treatment of LGBT people by Islamic extremists is one of the most overlooked human rights issues there is,” Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder of the gay conservative organization GoProud, told the Blade. “Many world leaders routinely site radical Islam’s treatment of woman and religious minorities, we have certainly heard a lot about how ISIS treats Christians, but rarely do political leaders or the media draw attention to the plight of LGBT people in that part of the world.”
Political and religious leaders have made it clear the Islamic State does not represent the religion of 1.6 billion people. “They’re not a state, and they do not represent Islam,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday. He added: “‘Islamic’ is the wrong word.”
But Islam’s connection with homophobia is hard to shake. In a list of the “Top Twelve Most Homophobic Nations in the World” published in February, Newsweek included Saudi Arabia for its religious-based anti-gay position. “Basing its law, it says, on a strict interpretation of Islamic law, the current Saudi regime has made gay sex punishable by death by the lash,” the magazine wrote.
Yet some have tried to distance Islam from homophobia — including Imam Daayiee Abdullah, the “first openly gay imam in the United States,” interviewed by Vice in February.
“The sexual acts that are condemned in the Qur’an were done without the consent of the other,” Abdullah, educational director of the Light of Reform Mosque in Washington, D.C., told Vice. “They were torture. Sexual acts are not the same as sexuality. The Qur’an doesn’t condemn any sexuality, anywhere.”
Meanwhile, others were critical of those putting the spotlight on the Islamic State’s homophobia. The self-described “right-leaning” Web site Downtrend published a piece critical of of the Blade report.
“To my knowledge ISIS has not released any gay beheading videos,” Brian Anderson wrote. “I am also unaware of them blowing up a leather bar or bath house. Despite a complete lack of action by ISIS against them the gay community insists on making this global threat all about homophobia.”