The association of Gay Muslims in France (HM2F) announced it will open an inclusive and progressive mosque which will be open for gays and women on an equal footing.
The new mosque which will be open on 30 November will enable women and men to perform their prayers together in the same space, not separately as is customary in traditional mosques settings.
Speaking with the daily Hurriyet, Ludovic Lütfi Zahed founder of HM2F explained why there is a need for such an inclusive mosque: ‘In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression’.
Zahed also stated that he became convinced that such a mosque is needed after he and a group of progressive Muslims from around the world went on a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca earlier this year.
‘Over 20 Inclusive mosques already exist in the United States’, he said.
Zahed explained to GSN that many Muslims feel frustrated with the conservative and intolerant views expressed in mosques towards women, marriage issues, or homophobic abuse.
He added that: ‘Many Muslims simply and feel they can’t have an open dialogue let alone consulting the imam without fearing condemnation.
‘This is why such mosques, which have been already set up by Muslims for Progressive Values, are increasingly in demand in North America and why I believe this will be the case in France’.
On a more personal note, Zahed is originally from Algeria and was married earlier this year to Qiyaam in a Muslim marriage.
He recounted to Hurriyet: ‘When I was 12 years old, I started exploring Islam and performing prayers. At first, I was impressed by the Salafists in Algeria, afterwards I became distant from them because of the terrorist attacks they performed.
'After my first night with a man, I realised that I was gay. I have found out that I had been pushing down my feelings with the help of Islam.’
The mosque will initially operate in a Buddhist temple from 30 November and will hold Friday prayers (Jumu'ah) as well as bless same-sex marriages.
According to Zahed the mosque could accommodate 300 worshipers, while three imams are currently in training to support the official imam of HM2F.
Zahed is also convinced that the mosque will help to fight against homophobia in Islam and Islamophobia within the LGBT community in France.
HM2F has already over 320 members.
HM2F organized an international conference of progressive Muslims and LGBT Muslims from around the world this weekend in Paris.
During the conference Zahed stated that the mosque will be inspired by the work of Muslims for Progressive Values in North America.
The attendants at the conference expressed their support for the creation of the mosque and hope that many others will follow throughout the world.