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Inside Germany's LGBTQ-Inclusive Mosque

A student shares his story of acceptance and deradicalization.

Tugay Sarac, born in Berlin to a Turkish family, learned at a young age that homosexuality was wrong and against the word of Islam. "I thought being gay is bad and that through Islam, by praying to God, I could cure myself and become normal. I started praying five times a day: I just felt bad, like I was dirty or inferior somehow ... I was really ashamed of my gay thoughts," said Sarac, now 20.

While he was struggling with these feelings as a teenager, he was also struggling with peer pressure to travel to Syria and fight for the Islamic State. "I always thought when I die in Syria ... I would go to the best place in paradise while being gay," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

There are only a handful of LGBTQ-inclusive mosques in the world, and encountering the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque, run by Imam Susie Dawi, showed Sarac a new path.

"Coming here, I started being comfortable with myself and that's when I told my mother and my aunt [that I was gay]," he said.

His newfound self-acceptance, along with mosque's inclusive perspective on Islam, helped draw him away from fundamentalist views. "This mosque helped me to deradicalise completely," he said.

Video courtesy of Openly.

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