Clara | Friday December 13th, 2013
The Arab Spring seemed to be a democratic awakening of freedom, equality and rights in Morocco and in all the other countries that took part in it. Two years later, the increasing power of Islamic groups and the government’s instability have complicated the situation. But, in stark contrast, Dutch filmmaker Chris Belloni released I AM GAY AND MUSLIM, a documentary that follows different young gay men in Morocco who try to combine their sexual and religious identities in a country where homosexuality is still punished by law.
This year, TV Channel France 24 dedicated an interview to Abdellah Taia, the only openly homosexual Moroccan writer and filmmaker: “The Moroccan press has dramatically changed its view on homosexuality – for example, they defend me. They also give gay people in Morocco the chance to express themselves. There are young gay Moroccans who created a gay magazine in Arabic. And there’s now an Arabic word for “homosexual” that is not disrespectful: “mithy”. It was created just six years ago, and is now used everywhere. It’s the government that has not changed. It’s still impossible to come out of the closet in Morocco and anywhere in the Arab world. Morocco is actually ahead of other Arab countries when it comes to homosexuality, because at least the issue has been debated in the press.”
The film was screened in several festivals around the world; Melbourne Queer Film Festival (2013), African Documentary Film Festival (2013), or Boston LGBT Film Festival. But, it also raised some controversy; the documentary was supposed to participate in Bir Duino Human Rights Film Festival in Kyrgyzstan, but it was finally banned because the country’s authorities claimed that “the film presented Islam in a bad light by using examples of people who have nothing to do with the religion.’
I AM GAY AND MUSLIM portrays through six men who share their experiences in front of the camera a social and political situation in which Islam and homosexuality seem irreconcilable. Each of them has a different story. Some live their lives in an open way, and some, in secret. In any case, all of them represent the same reality and the same will to change it.
Clara Rodríguez A.