SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — When Dr. Farrohk Sekaleshfar took the podium Monday night at the Husseini Islamic Center in Sanford to give a talk on women’s issues, attendees said his talk was well-received.
The discussion he was slated to have at the Center Tuesday, though, caused a stir in the city, with some calling English-born Sekaleshfar’s stance “reprehensible.”
Homosexuality as it applies to Islam is a topic Sekaleshfar has been addressing since at least 2013, when he addressed a crowd at the University of Michigan.
The rhetoric in that talk, which was posted on YouTube, was something that resident Alan Komman could not believe was coming to Sanford.
Sekaleshfar was blunt in the 2013 speech, admitting that under Islamic law, the punishment for homosexuality was death.
At the same time, he pointed out that it was the act that should be hated, not the person.
“Because the sinner is Allah’s creation,” he said. “You could never hate Allah’s creation.”
Even the punishment for the act of homosexuality is one of love, Sekaleshfar argued.
“We see the physical killing as something brutal, and this is the point when human hatred toward the act has to be done out of love,” he said in the 2013 talk. “You have to be happy for that person ... we believe in an afterlife, we believe in an eternal life … and with this sentence, you will be forgiven and you won’t be accountable in the hereafter.”
In that way, “It’s for his own betterment that he leaves,” Sekaleshfar said.
“We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals, it’s the same,” he said. “Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”
At the same time, he said it was different if the homosexual act was done in private.
“Because you can’t enter people’s houses to see if they’re occupied in the act,” he said. “Inside their houses they can do whatever they want, they’re free.”
To be convicted of committing a homosexual act under Islamic law, four people have to witness it, he explained.
That rarely happens, he said.
Sekaleshfar’s talk scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Sanford was titled “How to deal with the phenomenon of homosexuality” on the Islamic Center’s website, but specifics were not given.
Sekaleshfar could not be reached for comment.
A leader at the Islamic Center told Channel 9 that he believes they have the right to have anyone speak and that Tuesday’s talk was a private event.
He did not believe there was any reason to be concerned that Sekaleshfar’s talk could incite violence.
In the 2013 talk, Sekaleshfar did not see Islam’s take on homosexuality as a condemnation of homosexuals.
“True, people can’t be judged and all people are good,” he said. “They’re God’s creatures and that’s why everyone is good … so, is Islam homophobic? This is inaccurate, because there’s no hatred against such people.”
People like Komman, disagree.
“It’s appalling,” he said. “In fact, it’s inciting violence against gays, and I find that reprehensible.”