Israel: Homophobic op-ed by Islamic leader raises Arab Israeli ire

A homophobic article by an Israeli Islamic leader has sparked a flurry of condemnations by Arab civil society, shining a light on a usually suppressed debate on gay rights. Commenting on the same-sex wedding of Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, launched a scathing attack on homosexuality in an op-ed titled “You make me sick,” published on

“Western societies have reached the lowest of lows,” wrote Khatib, and that society was succumbing "to moral degradation." "It is noteworthy,” he continued, “that suspicious local organizations, tabloids and biased writers have been advocating this perversion. To all those, I say not ‘may you be well and have boys’ but rather ‘may you be miserable and suffer plagues and AIDS, you perverts!'”

Khatib’s comments quickly drew fire from Israeli Arabs on social media.

Al-Qaws, a Palestinian NGO supporting sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society, argued in a rare statement that Khatib’s concern over homosexuality may indicate a paradigm shift in Arab treatment of the subject: “We wonder,” the organization wrote, “Is this a miserable attempt to exploit the issue of gays for political purposes, or did the Sheikh see change taking place before his eyes and get nervous?”  Read More