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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Mass anger over murder and beheading of Palestinian gay man


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Mass anger over murder and beheading of Palestinian gay man

Last Wednesday, 25-year-old Palestinian Ahmed Abu Markhiya was brutally murdered in a town in the occupied West Bank. An Israeli organization fighting for equal rights for the LGBTQIA+ community reports that the motive for the murder is most likely the man’s sexual orientation. The Palestinian police deny that this is the reason.

Abu Markhiya was killed with a sharp object and beheaded. The perpetrator filmed the murder and posted it on social media. The video sparked mass horror and anger. This anger grew all the more when it became known that the motive for the murder could be the man’s sexual orientation. The victim had been threatened for years before the murder because of his homosexuality.

Abu Markhiya’s family told media that he lived in neighbouring Jordan and was in Hebron to visit relatives. However, an Israeli activist in the LGBTQIA+ community, Rita Petrenko, gives a different explanation. The victim is said to have fled his country of birth. He would have been threatened by his family and fellow villagers because of his sexuality. She would have accompanied him two years ago in his search for a safe environment. “But even there he got calls with threats. He wasn’t sure who he was.”

The Palestinian police are yet to confirm the motive for the murder because too much is still unclear. A spokesperson said a suspect has been arrested. “It is one of the worst cases I have encountered in my career,” said the police spokesman.

The motive is also barely mentioned on social media, where the horrific murder is often discussed. This is probably because homosexuality is taboo in the Palestinian community, where traditional and religious norms rule public life. For example, last year several gay people were mistreated by the Palestinian police and the LGBTQIA+ interest group Al Qaws (the rainbow) was not allowed to come together.

The murder of Abu Markhiya has a huge impact within the LGBTQia+ community. “The whole community is crying,” activist Natali Farah told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz . “Many Palestinian LGBTI people and therapists knew and appreciated him. Everyone is scared now.”

In recent days, commemorations for Ahmed Abu Markhiya have been held at various shelters for LGBTQ people and other places throughout the country. “Hopefully this horrific murder will raise awareness about the position of people like him,” said Petrenko. “Unfortunately, in the history of the LGBTI community, we have seen more than once that something very bad has to happen before anything improves.”

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