ISIS Goes Medieval on Gays

,  The Daily Beast

Here are images that pious Muslims ought to find more “offensive” than those of the Prophet Muhammad.

High above the Iraqi town of Mosul, masked members of the Islamic State throw a man off a building ledge. A crowd below gawks like spectators at a sporting event. They listen intently as a masked jihadi, his face covered by a balaclava, reads out the accused’s sentence like a carnival barker. For committing the eternal crime of the “people of Lot”—a Koranic euphemism for sodomy—the doomed man will he hurled to death. In the last photo, his corpse is splayed out across the wet concrete.

Upon seeing the pictures of this ghastly crime, I got a pit in my stomach, and not just because I’m afraid of heights. As a gay man, I thought, there but for the grace of Allah go I.

This was but the latest in a series of grisly punishments meted out by the religious movement-cum-government to people who are gay or merely suspected of being gay and unfortunate enough to live under its expanding rule. Over the past year, Islamic State has routinely murdered gays through stoning or throwing them off buildings.

The pictures of ISIS fighters throwing gays off rooftops are far more injurious to the reputation of Islam than anything produced by European satirists. And unlike a few cartoons depicting the founder of Islam, they’re actually worth fighting over.

A thread links these atrocities to this month’s murder of four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris, beyond the fact that the culprits in both cases are Islamist fanatics (if of different sects—the murderous Kouachi brothers were trained by al Qaeda, an ISIS competitor). The more salient commonality pertains to the victims, executed solely because of irrevocable traits: Jewishness and homosexuality.

Elsewhere in Paris, terrorists murdered cartoonists at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo over images they had drawn of the Prophet Muhammad. The office had been firebombed in 2011, and the paper’s editorial director Stéphane Charbonnier eerily predicted that the paper might be attacked again if his staff continued to print depictions of Muhammad. Simply put: Had they not published the cartoons, they would not have been killed.

There was no such choice for the Jews slaughtered the following day at the Hyper Cacher market. They were murdered simply for the crime of being Jewish. Likewise at the Hebdo office, the terrorists singled out a Jewish woman for death, having expressly spared every other woman in the office from a similar fate.

None of this is to say that the assassinations of the Hebdo cartoonists were any less sinister than those of their Jewish compatriots, or that they had brought their deadly fate upon themselves by acting “irresponsibly” or by “insulting Islam,”. On the contrary, they died in the service of a sacred cause, that of free expression.

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