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Now That Obama Is 'First Gay President' Will He Condemn Iranian Death Sentence of Four Gay Men?

(Photo: Newsweek)

After his landmark declaration (and flip-flop) supporting same-sex marriage, President Obama made the cover of Newsweek (again), this time bearing the moniker: The First Gay President -- not necessarily shocking when one considers Andrew Sullivan or the Newsweek editorial team has had a knack for concocting provocative headlines lately. But assuming the assertion Sullivan put forth in the crux of his article -- that, as a biracial man, Obama innately understands what it feels like to be a homosexual -- holds water, one wonders if the president will be equally brazen in his opposition of the Iranian regime, especially considering it has recently tried and sentenced to death, four gay men charged under Shariah law's anti-sodomy tenet.

Glenn Beck mocked the president's "courage" on Monday, suggesting that despite his newfound resolve to be a champion of the gay community, it seems doubtful the president will come out and condemn the atrocities being committed in Iran.

According to the Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) operating within Iran, Saadat Arefi, Vahid Akbari, Javid Akbari and Houshmand Akbari of Boyer-Ahmad Province have been sentenced do death by hanging, with the execution slated to take place shortly after the verdict was handed down. Yet aside from the most meager assortment of LGBT-oriented news outlets, the plight of these four men has not been covered anywhere in the mainstream media. The human rights group reports that four other gay men were also hung in recent months, and given the country's abysmal track-record, the number is not shocking. It is estimated that at least 4,000 members of the gay community have been executed in Iran in recent years, and those are only the incidents that have been reported.

“I am horrified and saddened to have heard the news about these four men," said London-based Iranian Human Rights lawyer Mehri Jafari.

"Not only with regards to the execution which is about to take place, but the fact that it is beyond our control.”

Jafari believes that since Boyer-Ahmad province is severely impoverished, there was likely inadequate legal assistance for the four men to avail themselves of. Likewise, due to the remote geographical location of the region, human rights advocates will have little access "to exert any influence on the process."

Regardless of the odds, Jafari is pleading for international organizations to act swiftly as a "Hodud," or Shariah-driven punishment is imminent.

Some are hearing the call. Gorji Marzban, member of an Austrian-based gay and lesbian advocacy group acknowledged that the death sentence of these four men underscores the discrepancy between Western and Islamic perceptions on homosexuality, and hopes that gay Iranians will one day gain equal rights and protection under the law. Despite threat of death, however, the harsh realities of Iranian life have not eradicated the country's gay community, only shoved it underground.

Of course it would be impossible, at this moment, not to remind readers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad now famous declaration that homosexuality "does not exist" in Iran. It is likely because those who are, are killed or in hiding.

And in the wake of this most recent string of death sentences, the rest of the civilized world seems equally reticent. In fact, former French Socialist Prime Minister Michel Rocard paid

an impromptu vist to Tehran to meet with Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi on May 12. While incoming French Socialist President Francois Hollande reportedly did not approve of the meeting, he himself garnered an estimated 93% of the Islamic vote in France. Considering these staggering statistics, it is difficult to imagine the incoming president becoming a hardline critic of the Iranian regime.

At the same time, it is a wonder what the draw to Socialism is for Islam, but the two separate ideologies seem to be working in tandem. An inkling into this possibility might be found when compared against another of Ahmadinejad's recent announcement in which he said a war need not be perpetrated to destroy Israel, rather, it can be done if members of the international community, one by one, snub the Jewish State.

During a speaking engagement in northeast Iran, the Iranian president who has called Israel a "cancerous tumor," said that "if countries of the region cut ties with the Zionists and give them dirty looks, it will spell the end of this puppet regime."


While members of the left are deafeningly silent over the atrocities being carried out in Iran, most seem all too eager to voice their condemnation for the country they deem "number one" in human rights violations: Israel. Yet Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East -- and one with a thriving gay community.

They are also silent about the very real possibility that Egypt will turn into a full-fledged Islamic theocracy.

We are, by now, aware of the threats posed to the West and Israel should the Muslim Brotherhood take office, but new concerns are also rising with yet another Egyptian presidential frontrunner, Abdel Fotouh (or his full name: Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh Abdel Hady), who made headlines by declaring that the late Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin's groundbreaking 1979 peace treat was and is, "a national security threat."

Dr. Fotouh began his dissension in the 1970s as a student activist who coordinated the inclusion of the various small Islamic organizations into the Muslim Brotherhood. For many years, he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and served on its Guidance Bureau. He has been called "one of the Brotherhood's most respected members" but was expelled in 2011 for refusing to relinquish his independent presidential campaign

If Fotouh is the alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, everyday citizens, especially minorities, have much to be worried about.




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