celebration to commemorate what would have been the 60th
birthday of the Tanzanian island's most famous native, Queen
frontman Freddie Mercury, has come under condemnation
by local conservative Muslims.
Muslim group has complained that the gay singer's flamboyant
lifestyle offended Islam and brought shame upon the island
and that the September 2 celebration must therefore be
Mercury with Zanzibar degrades our island as a place of
Islam," the Association for Islamic Mobilization and
Propagation said in a letter to the archipelago's
culture ministry, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Allowing such a
function for a person known outside Zanzibar as a
homosexual tarnishes the name of Zanzibar," the letter
There was no
immediate response from the government, AFP reported.
Simai Mohamed Saidi, who runs Mercury's, a Queen-themed
restaurant and club on the waterfront, said he would go
ahead with the party despite the complaint.
He defended the
internationally famous rock star, who died of AIDS
complications in 1991, and suggested that he would launch a
counterdrive and speak with officials about promoting
Mercury's link with Zanzibar to promote tourism.
Bulsara on September 5, 1946, to ethnic Persian parents in
British civil service in Zanzibar, the future star soon left
the island for school in India and lived in Britain
much of his life.
A 2004 tourist
boycott urged by the British gay rights group OutRage!
over homophobic legislation was condemned by Zanzibar
tourism officials, who said it would only plunge
residents deeper into poverty. Zanzibar remains a
popular tourist destination for gays from South Africa,
despite the oppressive antigay laws. (Hassan