Belgium Officials to Deport Turkish Imam For Promoting Homophobia

Belgium officials are deporting a Turkish imam for ‘sowing the seeds of hatred’ with homophobic comments on a popular social media platform that facilitates the power to affect public opinion.

In one of his posts, the Green Mosque’s nameless imam referred to the sermon by Ali Erbaş in April 2020. Erbaş is Turkey’s senior cleric and head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, who spoke during the commencement of Ramadan, declaring that “Islam curses homosexuality.”

But the imam posted that “homosexuality is an illness,” adding that Islam forbids it. 

Sammy Mahdi, the Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, told the imam that there is no place in Belgium for those who “sow the seeds of hate.” He also refused to extend the imam’s request for a living permit. 

The imam agreed with one Facebook user's comment that said “Homosexuality is a virus of capitalism and democracy.” 

According to the BBC Turkey, the imam led worship at the Green Mosque in Houthalen-Helchteren, a Belgium municipality. When asked to name the imam, mosque representatives would only say: “I don’t know, I have forgotten.”

The Flemish government voted to expel the imam of Green Mosque because of his homophobic perspective. 

Alain Yzermans, the municipality’s mayor, said that “Discriminatory messages opposing the democratic, constitutional state are unacceptable.” 

He adds that “Our municipality attaches great importance to equality and tolerance.”

Mahdiannounced they would not extend the imam’s three-year residence permit for the imam, which is near its end. "Those who come here to sow the seeds of hatred in our society do not have a place here," said the Christian Democratic and Flemish minister.

Mahdi added, "We can no longer tolerate stigmatizing the gay community and spreading such messages...If you have the right to work as an imam in Belgium, you have an exemplary duty. Everyone who does not want to hold our values will have to bear the consequences.”

Authorities in Belgium are investigating the homophobic statements because they could “disturb public order and national security.”

In addition to deporting the imam, authorities took legal action to revoke the Green Mosque’s license. Bart Somers, the domestic affairs and integration minister, advised that he is taking legal action to revoke the mosque’s license. City Council officials in Houthalen-Helchteren are also considering legal proceedings against the mosque.

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