Anti-gay violence mars Sufi ‘holy city’ in Senegal

Once again the gay community in Senegal’s holy city of Touba is suffering from homophobic violence. On Oct. 8, another young man was beaten up, filmed and expelled from Touba.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

The Great Mosque of Touba (Photo courtesy of APA News)

That assault came less than three weeks after 10 young homosexual men in Touba were arrested by the city’s Safiyatoul Amal religious militia.

The assault came three days after an attack on Aly Ndiaye (a pseudonym), the leader of an LGBTQ organization that has been helping the 10 men who were arrested. That organization negotiated the men’s release from prison and is still supporting four of the 10, seeking funds to allow them to leave the country. An earlier donation paid the expenses for the other six, who have reached safety outside Senegal.

The religious police in Touba are reportedly continuing to hunt for homosexuals.

Ndiaye left the city because his presence in Touba might have jeopardized the security of the four men his organization is sheltering, he said.

The Oct. 8 attack was launched by elements of Xudamoul Xadim, one of several “dahiras” (groups) loyal to particular Sufi sheiks (“grand marabouts”). In this case, the dahira surprised and severely beat an alleged homosexual in the Guédé district in Touba, according to the news website Seneweb.

The 20-year-old man allegedly admitted his homosexuality on a video in possession of Seneweb and claimed that he became a homosexual under the coercive influence of the marabout (master) of a Quranic school that he attended.

Touba, the second-largest city in Senegal, is considered holy by followers of Mouridism, a Sufi Islamic movement.

The Safiyatoul Amal religious militia uses a network of informers to locate homosexuals and often entraps men on the Internet, local LGBTQ rights activist Ndiaye said.

Under Senegalese law, sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex is punishable by a prison sentence of one to five years and a fine of 100,000 to 1,500,000 West African CFA francs (about $180 to $2,700).

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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