The June 26, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriages across the country sparked diverse reactions in the Arab world.
In what was considered a bold move in Arab and Muslim society, a number of Arab artists, journalists, and film personalities, primarily in Egypt and Lebanon, publicly voiced their support for the Supreme Court decision, and added the rainbow gay pride overlay to their Facebook profile pictures. This provoked considerable criticism and anger towards them, particularly towards Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga.
In contrast, and as Egypt's Al-Azhar University condemned the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Arab press published articles harshly criticizing it and those who support it. The articles argued that homosexuality is a deviation that is prohibited by Islam and other religions, and that it is antithetical to the culture of Arab society. They also stated that the Supreme Court decision is an attempt by Western colonialism to force its moral values on the East, and that Arabs must not adopt the inferior Western morality. According to one article, the decision was aimed at limiting the spread of homosexuality by restricting its practice to couples - which, it said, showed not acceptance of homosexuality by the West, but the West's concern about it. Another article, published in Egypt, claimed that Abol Naga's expressions of support for homosexuals was aimed at provoking the Egyptian regime.
This report reviews Arab artists' support for the Supreme Court decision, and includes translated excerpts from articles condemning the decision and those who support it.
Arab Artists, Journalists, Film Personalities Express Support For U.S. Legalization Of Same-Sex Marriages
A number of Arab artists, journalists, and film personalities expressed their support for the Supreme Court decision, and added the rainbow overlay to their Facebook profile pictures. Among them were Egyptian actors Khaled Abol Naga and Ahmed Magdy; Egyptian film critics 'Alaa Karkouti and Ahmad Shawky; Egyptian director Amir Ramses; Lebanese actor Maher Diab; Lebanese news anchor and moderator Dima Sadek; and Palestinian director Suha 'Arraf.Also, Egyptian media personality Mona 'Iraqi tweeted her support.
Khaled Abol Naga's Facebook picture (Image:Alaraby.co.uk, July 7, 2015)
Another public figure, whose response to the decision was harshly criticized on social media, was Egyptian writer and women's rights activist Dr. Nawal El-Sa'adawi. She stated that same-sex marriages are neither prohibited nor invalid.
Amir Ramses' Facebook profile picture (Image: Dotmsr.com, June 27, 2015)
Left to right: Facebook profile pictures of Maher Diab, Suha 'Arraf, and Ahmad Magdy. (Image: Dotmsr.com, June 27, 2015)
Egyptian media personality Mona 'Iraqi tweeted: "The right to life and free love without persecution, while granting them [homosexuals] and others full dignity" (Image: Twitter.com/MonaIraqiTv)
The artists' support for the ruling prompted harsh criticism of them, particularly of Khaled Abol Naga. For example, Egyptian journalist Wael Al-Abrashisaid on his television show that Abol Naga had flouted the traditions and values instilled in the Arab and Islamic peoples, and that he had interpreted the concept of "liberty" as licentiousness and lawlessness.Fuad Al-Dawalibi, founder of the Egyptian Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya Reform Front, also condemned the artists, and warned that the Supreme Court's decision would lead to moral deterioration and degradation and would weaken social and family ties, and that same-sex marriage was "a crime against humanity and a flagrant violation of human rights."
Nawal El-Sa'adawi's statements were also harshly criticized on Facebook and Twitter; users said, inter alia, that "the real place for Nawal El-Sa'adawiis a psychiatric rest home" and "when Nawal El-Sa'adawi speaks, Satan dances for joy."
In The Arab Press: Homosexuality Is A Deviation Negating Human Nature, Arab Tradition
Egyptian Journalist: Khaled Abol Naga's Support For Homosexuals Is An Attack On The Egyptian Regime
As stated, several journalists criticized the artists who had voiced their support of same-sex marriage, particularly Khaled Abol Naga. Dandrawy Al-Hawary, acting editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', called on the artists to apologize for harming the religion and the culture of Egyptian society that oppose homosexuality, and argued that Abol Naga is known for his opposition to and criticism of the Egyptian regime and was only supporting same-sex marriage to provoke and criticize this regime. He wrote:
"The Lord of the Worlds... says [in Koran 26:160-166]: 'The people of Lot denied the messengers when their brother Lot said to them 'will you not fear Allah? Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy messenger so fear Allah and obey me... Do you approach males among the worlds and leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing'... Therefore, sodomy is prohibited by religious law, and constitutes a grave transgression, as the Koran clearly states. Despite this, some of the preachers of liberty permit and defend this shameful activity, and assist it with all their might, to damage the foundation of the religion and to clearly violate [Muslim] social culture.
"As is known with certainty, a substantial part of the culture of every person is respecting the culture of others; since the entire Egyptian people unequivocally opposes homosexuality, anyone assisting and supporting homosexuals' rights, such as the rebel artist... Khaled AbolNaga,muststop [doing so] and must immediately apologize for his support of them, out of respect for the customs, traditions, and culture of Egyptians who oppose such defiant free[thinking].
"My dear readers, let us agree that the real disappointment that we sense, particularly from January 25, 2011 [the start of the Egyptian revolution that removed president Mubarak] to date, is that we live with no standard [of truth and falsehood], with no boundaries, with no principles, and with nothing to connect [us], and in a state of great confusion regarding moral and national values, and of distortion and derision of everything. As a result, the issue of individual freedom has become afflicted with confusionand a conflation of concepts that goes beyond the mixing of the genders. For example, two days ago, the artist Khaled Abol Naga... announced his full support for homosexuals' right to marry, and welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court decision. By doing so, he became one of the stars of the homosexuals' ÔÇÿrainbow flag.' For his profile picture on the Facebook social network, he posted a picture of himself merging with these colors...
"The problem with [this] rebel is that while he supports homosexuals, he [also] attacks the Egyptian regime, describes President Al-Sisi as a failed [president] who has not succeeded in eradicating terrorism, and calls for a revolution against him. He was [also] one of the most prominent people who shouted the well-known shameful slogan 'down with the military regime'... Here, we cannot forgive; by drawing the logical conclusions, we have therefore proven that Khaled Abol Naga takes pride in defending homosexuals' rights while he resents and declares his anger and wrath against President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi and the military establishment [that is, his support for homosexuals' rights is only part of his opposition to the Egyptian regime]...
Saudi Columnist: Homosexuality Is Against Human Nature - And No Law Can Change That
In the official Saudi daily 'Okaz, Saudi writer and columnist Abdo Khal condemned the U.S. Supreme Court decision and stated that homosexuality was unnatural, and that no legislation could change that. He also expressed his concern that Abol Naga's support for same-sex marriage could change young Arabs' minds about it. He wrote:
"President Obama has succeeded in cementing his legacy, not by adopting particular policies or positions against the spread of hate in light of the destruction afflicting humanity, but by granting legitimacy to homosexuals... Religions have recognized that homosexuals [exist] and have required punishment for them, to deter them from their activity and to make them return to their human nature. Therefore, legitimizing homosexuality is a crack [in the foundation] that will lead to the collapse of the entire [social] structure.
"The law cannot stand against nature, because then it contradicts human nature, history, and religions. I do not think that anyone who knows the difference between individual freedom and the freedom to preserve the social human entity canpermit homosexuals to destroy the foundation [of society]... This call [to support same sex marriage] has rocked the foundations of the world. If you have unnatural desires, it does not mean that the law should be amended... to make them natural...
"After the U.S. ruling on same sex marriage, one Arab artist quickly became the first to respond to it... on his Facebook account, where his picture appeared with rainbow colors, which is the symbol of homosexuals and their supporters. The fear is that young people will be enticed by this call, which is considered trendy, without realizing that homosexuals can never be part of the norm."
Saudi Columnist: The U.S. Decision Is A Western Colonialist Culture War Against The East
Saudi columnist 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Hays wrote in the official Qatari daily Al-Arab that the U.S. Supreme Court was trying to legitimize sexual deviancy, as part of the ongoing culture war waged by Western colonialism against the East's morality. He criticized both this move by the West and those in the East who are enabling it: "...Colonialism's [purported] goal is to ÔÇÿmodernize barbarian [cultures]' and to revive cultures that have crumbled and dried up, such as that of the Eastern world...Up until today, the Western world has continued to work to reshape non-Western identities so that they match its own character and identity. In the sixties, there was a wave of sexual openness in the U.S. and in Western countries, and in the eighties and nineties, the topic of sexual rights was raised in the rest of the world via international organizations, and tied to progress and civilized behavior...
"The wave of [Western] attacks on the world of the 'other' still operates according to these perceptions. Today, a new phase in this struggle began, when... the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same sex (homosexual) marriage is legal throughout the United States...
"This ruling is an historic step in the eyes of various organizations that have fought since the eighties to spread Western sexual identities [in the world] and globalize the anthem of the homosexual community. The victory of these organizations is strengthened because the U.S. has become an official supporter of homosexuals.
"The danger of the U.S., as one analyst claimed, is in its obsession with exporting its culture. We saw proof of this immediately after the same-sex marriage ruling was announced, when the rainbow flag became a symbol of freedom that was happily promoted by many global American companies - such as the major Internet social networks, Disney, and even the White House and other institutions. It is anticipated that the U.S. will engage in the cultural dissemination [of the ruling]... The worst part is... that the ruling will grant a political role to the U.S., which has long accused countries of lacking or violating human rights. In the past, a U.S. State Department official used the issue of homosexuals to defame Iran's governments...
"There is a difference between the existence of homosexuality in society, and its existence as a respectable culture legitimized by law and immune to definition as criminal. This phenomenon existed here in the past and exists in the present, like in other societies. However, just because this sexual proclivity and deviance exists among some does not mean that it should be granted legal legitimacy [or] that it should be seen as socially normal, thus violating moral norms and consensus [in our society] - even though some intellectuals thinkthat this should be the case.
"There is a difference between knowledge and morality. Even if the West's progress and knowledge appeal to us, this does not mean that we should... imitate its moral path... When the French arrived in Egypt, [Egyptian] historian Al-Jabarti was impressed by their lust for knowledge, but at the same time, about the moral aspect, he wrote of their licentiousness, describing shamefulness unbecoming of humans. The West is still going too far in its desire to reshape and control the other, and we are still going too far by allowing it to do so!"
Iraqi Columnist: The Ruling Was Aimed At Limiting The Spread Of The Homosexual Epidemic In The West
In his column in the Iraqi daily Al-Zaman, which is published in Baghdad, Beirut, and London, Khaled ÔÇÿAbbas Al-Khazraji claimed that homosexuality was a deviation and an epidemic that had spread throughout the world via adults forcing themselves sexually on children, and that such encounters are made possible by Western parents' inattention to their children.He added that this epidemic had spread in the U.S. and Europe so extensively that there was no other way than to find a solution for it, and that the U.S. Supreme Court decision was aimed at limiting the spread of this "disease" by restricting it to couples:
"Was the American decision to approve same sex marriage correct [?]Perhaps it was a decision meant to reduce the phenomenon [of homosexuality], which has spread unusually in Europe and the U.S. [These countries] believe in human liberty, but when thismeans the liberty to do things that even animals do not do, then it is not fitting...
"How did this happen??? The inattention to children, the [parents'] failure to supervise [them], and the [parents'] lack of information about their [children's] relationships with others have been exploited by those who have been infected with this disease [homosexuality] in order to infect [the children] with this sickness by carrying out deviant acts against them. This is how theepidemic has spread...
"The American ruling was released but did not mention the real reasons for it, aside from the human aspect. In my opinion, the ruling was no accident, but came after comprehensive study, based [on the desire] to limit the spread of this disease in Western societies, particularly in the U.S. and Europe.
"[But] how?? These deviants can be controlled only by incarceration or detention in defined locations - but that stands in opposition tohuman rights, especially in the Western world. Therefore, officially agreeing to marriage and helping them with housing will eliminate the spread of this disease and limit it to two people, instead of letting it run free and spread...
"The U.S. ruling was correct, in order to limit the spread of this phenomenon. I say again... Innocent children are victimized by others who were once victim to the same crime as these children are. This is how this deviant urge has spread, to the point that its extent required a solution.
"...All the monotheistic religions have refused to allow such things [as homosexuality]... It has spread because it has received the protection of human rights [organizations].
"I call on you, as a Muslim Arab Iraqi citizen, to protect our children, to supervise them, and to know who their friends are - so that our society will be clean of this phenomenon. [I say] this knowing that we are a ruthless Eastern Arab and Muslim society that sees such diseases as a disgrace to the family and to tribe."
 Alaraby.co.uk, July 7, 2015; Al-Dustour (Egypt), July 9, 2015.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6109, "Egyptian Liberal: According To Al-Azhar, Homosexuality Is 'A Crime Against Humanity' - But ISIS Beheadings Are Just 'Deviating From The Straight Path',"July 20, 2015.
Dotmsr.com , June 27, 2015; Al-Nahar (Lebanon), July 8, 2015.
 Twitter.com/MonaIraqiTv, June 27, 2015.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), July 23, 2015.
Al-Wafd (Egypt), July 7, 2015.
 Bidnaalyoum.com, July 10, 2015.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), July 23, 2015.
Al-Yawm Al-Sabi'(Egypt), July 9, 2015.
'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), July 9, 2015.
Al-Arab (Qatar), June 29, 2015.
Al-Zaman (Iraq), July 1, 2015.