An agency of the British government, along with a number of organizations associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood, sponsored a conference in Johannesburg South Africa at the end of November titled “International Consultations on Islam & HIV/AIDS- Compassion – Action.” According to the conference website, the objective of the conference was:
To develop and subsequently apply approaches to HIV/AIDS which are both effective and Islamically sound. These approaches will be developed jointly by Islamic scholars, HIV/AIDS-related practitioners, and people living with HIV/AIDS. The approaches will be based on Islamic teachings and examples of good practice, and they will build upon existing Muslim and interfaith declarations related to HIV/AIDS.
The major sponsor of the conference was Islamic Relief, a U.K. based charity with many ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood. Secondary sponsors included the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and the International Islamic Charity Organization (ICCO), both organizations also known to be associated with the Brotherhood. Also sponsoring the conference was the U.K. Department for International Development, the British agency charged with global anti-poverty programs.
Although there appears to have been no media coverage of the event, a U.N report indicates that harsh rhetoric had been heard at the conference:
The previous day, several of them had denounced homosexuality as un-Islamic and evil. Today, Abu al-Sameed had something to tell them. “As a gay Muslim, I feel unsafe, unloved and unrespected in this space,” he said. “Were I to become HIV-positive, the first thing I would lose is my Muslim community. I couldn’t come to you guys for support.” You could cut the tension the room with a knife. Abu al-Sameed continued: “I wish you did not refer to gays with the (Arabic) words ‘shaz’ and ‘luti’ – perverts and rapists – because we are not.” Two men in keffiyas, the gingham headcloth worn by men in many Muslim countries, waved their arms to silence him but the chairman nodded for him to continue.
The report goes on to say, however, that the following morning saw a more positive development:
The following morning, the ulama had a surprise. Conference spokesperson and IRW head of policy Willem van Eekelen read their collective statement, saying that although Islam does not accept homosexuality, Islamic leaders would try to help create an environment in which gay people could approach social workers and find help against AIDS without feeling unsafe.