Muslim LGBTQ activist Nadiya Al-Noor talks about equality, Zionism, and respect between people who disagree about social and political issues: “I want to build bridges.”
For obvious reasons, it’s been more difficult for Muslim LGBTQ activist Nadiya Al-Noor to come out as a Zionist than it was coming out as queer. “There’s so much hate and distrust between Jewish and Muslim communities,” she tells A Wider Bridge.”I want peace and understanding between Jews and Muslims. I want to build bridges. That’s why I speak out against antisemitism. It is my duty as a Muslim and a human being to speak out against discrimination, violence, and oppression.”
“I want to show the world there is no conflict between Zionism and Islam,” she adds. “It’s possible to be a Zionist Muslim!”
Nadiya wasn’t always a Zionist. It was learning about Israel with an open mind that changed her perspective. “Zionism to me is the struggle for and affirmation of the Jewish right to self-determination in their indigenous homeland of Israel,” she says bravely, and admits that she’s facing threats on a daily basis for thinking that – from the Muslim community, and even from the queer-Muslim community.
“I get messages calling me a ‘journalism prostitute,’ a ‘Jewish whore in a hijab,’ messages telling me I ‘need a good beating’,” she shares, “but the hardest part is the friends I’ve lost and rejection I’ve faced. Many of my friends blocked me online and stopped talking to me when I came out as a Zionist. I think the most heartbreaking thing, though, is when Jews accuse me of being a lying terrorist in disguise, simply because I’m a Muslim.”
Nadiya came out as queer at 13, and says that very quickly she became ‘a gay magnet.’ “I was the first one in my school to come out,” she recalls, “but one by one, seemingly everyone I knew came out to me. They all looked to me for guidance. So I was kind of thrust into a leadership position. I became president of my high school’s Gay and Straight Alliance. I continued queer activism into college. Being a queer Muslim is difficult. You get told by Muslims and non-Muslims alike that you can’t ‘really be Muslim’ if you’re queer. As if they know my faith better than I do. The Muslim community and the queer community both tell me, ‘You’re not welcome here.’ Too gay for Muslims, too Muslim for gays. Funnily enough, I get told that I can’t ‘really be Muslim’ if I’m a Zionist.”