Homophobia: alive in Egypt and at Cleveland State

Good people go to hell and students will probably go to counseling

By Karim Mohammed Seif

On a fateful Wednesday morning, as I walked out of my class, I noticed a particularly loud man and his colleagues in the Cleveland State University court yard. At first, I hoped it was something of value, but little did I know I couldn’t be further from the truth.

Picture this, a queer man who left Egypt because of its homophobic laws is now facing the harsh reality of homophobia at a university that prides itself on diversity. I’ve worked hard to leave after years of being stuck in a place where being LGBTQ is not accepted. After working exceptionally hard to leave that place and live my life to the fullest extent, I come to Cleveland State to see a preacher spouting hateful sentiments to the student populous and scaremongering LGBTQ people and other minority groups.

That’s exactly my experience. And what truly put more salt in my wound was the way this was handled. You would expect a man being disruptive, loud and generally insulting to many people would be unacceptable. But according to the police and the lack of action by Cleveland State, verbal attacks on minority groups are acceptable.

To give you some perspective, if you were not aware of who this preacher is, he has been coming to our campus for years. When pressed about what religious organization he belongs to, he refuses to answer, but will openly disrespect LGBTQ folks to their face. Here’s the kicker, he has a huge list of “people who are going to hell.” I think my favorite one is a tie between “rebellious women” and “good people,” and let’s give an honorable mention to “sports nuts,” truly outrageous.

This preacher verbally harassed and belittled minorities, preaching if we do not convert to a religion we aren’t even told the name of, we will go to hell. This is happening on a campus we pay thousands of dollars to attend. Instead of looking further into the guidelines of hate speech to protect our students, the police allowed this to continue. For that, I must say, how cowardly and complicit of you, Cleveland State. Allowing blatant hate speech on campus and telling students to stop bothering a bigoted preacher, purely to avoid any sort of trouble, is what our minority students were told when they advocated for themselves.

If it is his right to speak his mind and belittle the students of the campus he is on, then it is our right for us to do the same and tell him that he has no right to bother us the way he did. Moreover, to dare even tell the students to “not bother him” is an act of oppression. Asking the students, the actual victims of verbal abuse, to sit in silence while they get berated is not okay. Cleveland State would rather have order instead of justice, and that is shameful.

I, as a student, believe a misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and loud preacher, should not be allowed on our campus. The next time he shows his face, I believe I have the right to protest peacefully against his messages.

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