British former Islamic extremist who came out as gay shares his incredible story
In the wake of last week's tragic events in Flordia, which saw 29-year-old US citizen Omar Mateen shoot dead 49 people at an Orlando gay club, media attention has focused on the gunman's extremist views, as well as his sexuality, after several men claimed they had been messaged by the killer on gay dating apps.
Now, 24-year-old Sohail Ahmed has shared his own story, revealing to MSNBC on Friday (June 17) how he almost committed a terrorist atrocity himself before finally accepting his sexuality.
The Rachel Maddow Show heard how Sohail could not come to terms with his sexuality, and his anger eventually left him "on the precipice" of committing a terror attack in the UK.
The Brit had a change of heart after the 7/7 attacks in 2005, which killed 52 people.
Sohail told Maddow: "All I knew was that I had same-sex attractions, but I assumed that they were simply there temporarily, or that I was possessed, or that they were a deviation of my internal nature".
With the help of the Quilliam Foundation, which bills itself as the "world's first counter-extremism think tank", Sohail learned to accept his sexuality, unlinking his desires from the pull of religious extremist ideology.
He went on to say that he now realised that radicalism is "evil" and "insidious" and said that following his work with the foundation, "for the first time ever, I was happy to be Muslim and happy to be gay".
Since Orlando, LGBT Muslims have bee making sure their voices are heard. The massacre was seen in some quarters as being the fault of Islam, and LGBT Muslims are keen to let the world know they exist.
Ani Zonneveld, the President of Muslims for Progressive Values, said: "The truth is that this tragedy cannot be neatly categorized as a fight between the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community.
"As LGBTQ Muslims, we know that there are many of us living at the intersections of different identities. We recognize that no community is a monolith."
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