Azwan Ismail is a brave man in trouble. He recently came out publicly as gay (as part of Dan Savage‘s It Gets Better project):
Because he lives in the Islamic country of Malaysia, where homosexual acts are illegal, he’s getting death threats:
Azwan Ismail told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday he was taking safety precautions following fierce criticism in this conservative, Muslim-majority country over his clip, which has been viewed more than 140,000 times on YouTube in just six days.
Malaysia’s Cabinet minister for Islamic affairs, Jamil Khir Baharom, voiced concerns over the weekend that gay activists were trying to promote homosexuality. He said officials might take “appropriate action to prevent this from spreading because it would hurt Islam’s image.”
Harussani Zakaria, one of Malaysia’s top Islamic clerics, reportedly said Azwan should have not made such an open declaration that “derided his own dignity and Islam in general.”
Umm… I assure the government officials that Islam’s image is not going to get any worse because one gay guy came out of the closet. Islamic leaders and a handful of followers have done enough to ruin the faith for all the decent folks out there who still think Islam stands for “peace.”
Best of luck to Ismail, though, who has an uphill climb ahead of him:
“My intention was not to insult Islam,” Azwan told the AP. “I just wanted to represent gay Malays in this project. I hope these videos will help to create a more open society and more discussion.”
Azwan, who has a boyfriend, said he started confiding in others about his sexuality five years ago. He added that he has not broached the subject with his parents, but his brother asked him about it after news of the video surfaced.
Reader k0k is a Malaysian atheist who has a much sharper response to all this:
Then, there are the sanctimonious cunts who claim that Azwan is “insulting” Islam by being born a homosexual and having the stones to come out of the closet. The degree of self-entitlement of these self-important jackasses is frankly, quite astounding. If Allah has beef with Azwan, I’m sure the He is more than capable of dealing with him when the time comes — if it ever comes. And did they even ask Azwan if he personally believe in the teachings of Islam? I’m sure they didn’t, and in Malaysia where apostasy is both criminalised and demonised, he couldn’t renounce his affiliation with the incredible Religion of Peace™ even if he wanted to anyway. If he claims to be an apostate, they can easily take that as an “insult” to Islam too (we know there were precedents for this). From the get go, he was given no freedom of religion and no freedom of sexuality. He’s between a rock and a hard place, both promising potential repercussions from our primitive laws. Speaking of our legal system, I’m kind of at risk right now too for violating some stupid blasphemy laws. Welcome, ladies and gents, to Malaysia.
Here’s hoping Ismail remains safe.