Thousands of French have expressed their support for gay marriage in France by signing a petition created last week by two Arab activists, an effort they say is a part of their struggle for a country where all citizens are equal.
“All the French Muslims who have signed the petition are approving gay marriage,” Tewfik Allal, a Muslim immigrant living in France since 1967 and initiator of the petition, told Al Arabiya News.
“All of the signatories defend homosexuals just like they support equality between women and men, black and white, Muslims and Jews … equality for everyone,” Allal added.
Infographic: Legalizing same-sex marriage
Infographic: Legalizing same-sex marriage
The petition, written during the Association Forum of Democratic Struggles of Immigration, has been signed by more than 7,000 French so far, many of which are Muslim or of Arab descent, Allal said.
The initiative was initially proposed by Algerian-born Allal and Mouhieddine Cherbib, a French-Tunisian activist for Human Rights.
Fighting for equality
The campaign calls on French people to fight for “equality among citizens” and “liberty,” in reaction to the thousands of conservative individuals who marched through Paris and Lyon on Feb. 2 accusing the government of “family-phobia” for legalizing gay marriage and other anticipated policies they say will harm traditional families.
“The main idea behind this petition is to gather the biggest number [of people] to fight against any kind of racism and inequalities in France,” Cherbib said.
“For us being Muslim, Jewish or black doesn’t matter. We don’t care about your belief or mine. What matters is equality. We should all be considered as citizens of France,” he said.
“We also defend the idea that Muslims can have their own ideas and should not be identified by their religion,” Cherbib added.
The petition was proposed at a time when the Arab world is witnessing a struggle for “freedom and dignity following the Arab Spring,” Allal said.
“We cannot demand equalities and fight for democracy in our native Arab countries and come to France and refuse equalities for everyone,” he added.
Despite the support for the petition, some Muslims in France are speaking out against the initiative, saying same sex marriage should be banned as they consider it as a “violation of traditional family values.”
“We [Muslims] are firmly against gay marriage. A couple is made of a man and a woman. What do you want to tell your children when they grow up? You have two mothers or two dads!” Fatma Drissy, a Muslim mother living in France told Al Arabiya News.
“Certain limits should not be crossed. We need to stick to our values and traditions,” Drissy added.
In January, fifty Muslim activists issued an open letter urging fellow Muslims to join a major march in Paris against the same-sex marriage law, according to Reuters.
During the march called “Manif pour tous” or “March for all,” some protesters, held a banner that read “French Muslims say no to gay marriage.”
In reaction to the backlash, Allal said: “Why are these Muslims being racist to homosexuals? There are homosexual Muslims, they exist in France and in other countries.”
By writing words like these, “these reactionary French Muslims” are marginalizing not only homosexuals in France, but they also creating a gap between Muslims and the rest of French people, Allal added, noting a rise of Islamophobia in France.
Attacks on Muslims in France, including women wearing headscarves, increased by 11.3 percent in 2013, compared to the previous year, the National Observatory of Islamophobia reported in January.
France's 5-million-strong Muslim minority is Europe's biggest and Islam is the country's second largest faith after Catholicism.
The controversial same-sex marriage bill was signed by President Francoise Hollande in May 2013, despite fierce opposition and mass protests across France..
After the legislation passed, France became the 14th country in the world to allow gay marriage.
Same-sex relationships and marriage are prohibited in Islam, which teaches believers that they should neither participate in obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.SHOW MORE