Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Musicians group calls for cancellation of upcoming Elton John concert [Updated]

May 3, 2010 | 12:14 pm

The Egyptian Musicians' Union is calling for the cancellation of a May 18 concert by Elton John after the singer's recent comments about religion and his global promotion of homosexual rights, which many Muslims regard as an affront to Islam.  

"How do we allow a gay who wants to ban religions, claimed that prophet Eissa [Jesus] was gay, and calls for Middle Eastern countries to allow gays to have sexual freedom," Mounir El Wassimi, the head of the union, said Sunday. 

The union controls who performs in Egypt, but it was unclear if concert promoters would attempt to go ahead with the show. John, a Grammy, Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, has made no secret of his homosexuality since the mid-'70s. He has been in a civil partnership with David Furnish since 2005.

The 63-year-old performer recently sparked controversy when he spoke to Parade magazine in February of his belief that Jesus was gay and that all religions should be banned, adding that if a woman tries to be gay in the Middle East, she will be "as good as dead."

Homosexuality is one of the biggest sins in Islam, a religion that is practiced by nearly 90% of Egyptians. [Updated on May 4 at 3:30 p.m.: The original sentence -- "Homosexuality is one of the biggest sins in Islam, which is practiced by nearly 90% of Egyptians" -- was misinterpreted by some readers to mean that 90% of Egyptians practice homosexuality.] Despite human rights activists' claims that homosexuality is spreading across the country, the issue remains a social and religious taboo. In 2001, 20 people received prison sentences for debauchery and obscene behavior after police raided what was described by authorities as a "gay disco" on a boat floating on the Nile in Cairo.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Elton John and David Furnish on their wedding day in 2005. Credit: BBC