As a queer man of color living in Berlin, Senior Fellow Saad Malik frequently faces multiple levels of discrimination. While the idea of Germany’s Wilkommenskultur, “welcoming culture,” that respects refugees was highly touted in national and international discourse, anti-Muslim racism has become an increasingly present reality in Germany. It was clear to Saad that “refugees would be even more vulnerable to and affected by discrimination than people ‘like me’, who were born and raised here.”
Saad was inspired to take action against this intersectional discrimination that he and others face by being Muslims and Queer during the annual Muslim month of fasting: Ramadan. “Ramadan is a time where the believer diminishes his ego by devoting himself to the fasting. It is a time of contemplation, surrendering and, by this, connecting to your environment, both the nature and the people around you, from a humble, decent and altruistic position. For me, the timing for a social outreach project coincided perfectly with my faith.”
With the help of GLADT e.V, an NGO run by people of color who are members of the LGBTQ community and focus on intersectionality and compounding discriminations throughout Germany, Saad designed his project to:
- Create a safe space by and for those affected and;
- Demonstrate that integration works only as a mutual and reciprocal process of host-society with ALL its parts being engaged and eager to fuse together into a new social fabric.
“Ramadan is a time where the believer diminishes his ego by devoting himself to the fasting. It is a time of contemplation, surrendering and, by this, connecting to your environment, both the nature and the people around you, from a humble, decent and altruistic position.“
After organizing and outreach, Saad set out and created a space for Queer Muslim Berliners/refugees to come together and break their fast during Ramadan. Queer Iftar encouraged a moment of oneness and community for people that often feel left out of German society.
“Integration works only as a mutual and reciprocal process of host-society with ALL its parts being engaged and eager to fuse together into a new social fabric.”
However, what was built to be a beautiful moment of connectivity and altruism, bringing together people that face similar discrimination for their intersectional identities, was challenged by individuals from the target group or affiliated to it. In fact, some boycotted Saad’s plans due to personal issues with either the concept or venue. Saad understood their thinking, however without their willingness to come to the table, there was little opportunity to incorporate their suggestions or to broaden the larger goal of the event. “You have to make yourself as independent as you can be in order to realize the project as you think is right and not to focus much on other people’s behavior.” Ultimately, Saad wants to take the concept of Queer Iftar and go even further by organizing a monthly meeting for individuals of the Muslim and LGBTQ community in Berlin to find connection and solidarity with people undergoing similar hurdles.