Conservative Muslims in Zanzibar have demanded that a party planned to celebrate the late Zanzibar-born Freddie Mercury’s birthday be banned.
The group opposing the party – the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation (UAMSHO) – have sent a letter to the country’s ministry of culture, saying that, “Associating Mercury with Zanzibar degrades our island as a place of Islam.”
The organisations adds that while the former frontman for rock group Queen was born in the archipelago, he grew up outside Zanzibar and then changed his name; Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara.”
The letter goes on to say that, “Allowing such a function for a person known outside Zanzibar as a homosexual tarnishes the name of Zanzibar… Let us protect our good culture.”
Simai Mohamed Saidi, who runs a Freddie Mercury themed restaurant and is the organiser of the party – which is planned for Saturday – says that he will go ahead with the celebration of Mercury’s 60th birthday regardless of the complaint.
The government has not yet responded to the letter.
Gay sex is illegal in the overwhelmingly Muslim island chain situated off the coast of Tanzania, with penalties of 25 years imprisonment for gay men and a seven year prison term for Lesbians.