Amsterdam politician faces backlash over homophobic remarks

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The Amsterdam party for the elderly PvdO refuses to work with the D66 over a statement candidate councilor Yassmine El Ksaihi made about homosexuality in an interview with NRC in 2010. The D66 candidate said that "homosexuality is a sin in Islam".

"This statement is pure homophobia and seriously impedes the emancipation of homosexuals", Wil van Soest of the PvdO said to the Telegraaf. The party will not work with the D66 as long as it supports homophobia, according to the newspaper.

The statement Van Soest refers to dates from 2010, when El Ksaihi, then the chairman of the Polder Mosque, spoke to NRC. NRC asked her what is the most controversial topic for the Muslim community. She answered:

"Enormous fuss arose, for example, after a meeting on homosexuality, which was held in the prayer room because of the large influx. It was a good mixed audience, Muslims and non-Muslims. The atmosphere was good. But the debate leader kept emphasizing that it was so unique that we were sitting in an Islamic prayer room with gays (non Muslims). Then all kinds of Muslims suddenly started to wonder if that was right and if we were not trying to promote homosexuality. That is very sensitive. Then I was also misquoted in the district magazine. I would have said that I hoped that the first Muslim gay would come out of the closet with us. I never said that. Homosexuality is a sin in Islam. That is not a point of discussion for us. The question is: how do you deal with that sin? I think everyone should know that for themselves. It is a personal choice that I will not bother you about. But of course, as chairman of the mosque, I can not say: welcome, express your sins here in the mosque. The debate leader regretted that there were no Muslim homosexuals and asked me: is the chance that this happens greatest in the Polder mosque? Then I said yes. But that is something else. In all honestly, I do not care, but I'm in office here."

On Monday El Ksaihi released a statement on the D66 website to nuance her earlier statements, saying that as a member of the D66 she is 100 percent committed to the rights of LGBTI people. "During the interview eight years ago, I struggled as a 23-year-old chairman of the mosque with my role as chairman. I wanted to set up an inclusive mosque, where everyone was welcome. It did not matter to me what the sexual orientation was of the visitors to the mosque. I also wanted to get the more conservative constituency behind this. Unfortunately I was not able to convey that properly at the time. If I am asked that again now, I would also formulate it differently", she said. 

"Everyone can fall in love with whoever they want. As long as this is not possible according to the law or in practice, I will continue to fight for equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans and intersexual people. So that Amsterdam really becomes the inclusive, diverse city that I am proud of."

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