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04/19/2007


Gay Former Saudi Diplomat Asylum Case Appealed

An update on the case of Ali Ahmed Asseri, the former Saudi diplomat who has been fighting to recieve political asylum in the United States since 2010

Asseri, who is currently living in Los Angeles, says returning to his home country would mean death. He claims that his one-time fellow Saudi consulate employees in LA followed him and, upon learning he was gay, began to harass him. They insisted he return to Saudi Arabia. Currently making a living as a part-time security guard, he sleeps on friends' couches. 

CNN reports on the status of his petition for asylum, which was initially denied by the Department of Homeland Security. It has since been appealed.

6a00d8341c730253ef013487437db5970cIt wasn't until this past February that Asseri was finally granted a hearing date for his appeal. At the court, the immigration officer offered him a deal to remain in the country permanently without possibility of asylum or a green card.

Additionally, he could never leave the country. When he rejected the offer, the immigration officer applied for another continuance, saying she needed to submit more documents in the two-year case. He is now looking at a new hearing date in 2015.

Today, Asseri barely makes ends meet as a part-time security guard. He lives on couches at friends' apartments in West Hollywood. His family has shunned him and his ex-wife won't allow him to talk to his son.

As unbearable as his life in limbo is, he says returning to Saudi Arabia would be a death sentence.

"There is no question," he says. "If you go back and say I am gay and proud and I don't believe in religion anymore. Under sharia law this is death. You will be happy if they kill you right away. "

Asseri says some of the blame about his current situation should be placed on politics.

Asseri had been convinced that Obama's stated commitment to gay rights would trump politics and keep him safe in the United States.

"When President Obama ran in 2008 I supported him. I cried for him, I encouraged my American friends to vote for him. Now I can't stand to watch him on TV," he says. "I'm angry. He said he supports the rights of gay people, so why is this happening to me?"

The Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles did not return phone calls. The Department of Homeland Security declined comment, saying asylum cases were confidential.


Saudi Arabia Objects to Creation of .Gay Internet Domain on Moral Grounds

Saudi Arabia is objecting to proposed new internet domains .gay, .bar, .baby and .islam, CNN reports:

DotgayThe country claims the .gay domain would promote homosexuality and would be offensive to "many societies and cultures." Saudi Arabia's Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) filed objections to 31 domain extensions, primarily on cultural and religious grounds.

The suffixes are some of the 1,930 top-level domain names currently being considered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization in charge of managing Internet naming standards. If approved, the dot-extensions would be available for new URLs, joining familiar extensions .com and .org, and country extensions such as .uk...

..."Many societies and cultures consider homosexuality to be contrary to their culture, morality or religion," says the CITC, which regulates information technology in Saudi Arabia. The objections filed by Saudi Arabia highlight the cultural issues at play for many of the more controversial domains, including anything having to do with sex, gambling, drinking and religion.

Previously...
Who Will Control the .gay Domain?


Saudi Arabia Bans 'Tomboys and Gays' from Schools

Emirates 24/7 reports that public schools in Saudi Arabia have been ordered by the government to bar "tomboys and gays":

SaudiarabiaThe Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the most feared law enforcement authority in the oil-rich country, has been asked to enforce the new orders, Sharq Arabic language daily said.

“Instructions have been issued to all public schools and universities to ban the entry of gays and tom boys and to intensify their efforts to fight this phenomenon, which has been promoted by some websites,” it said.

The paper did not make clear who issued those instructions but said gay and tom boy students can go back to schools and universities if they prove they have been corrected and have stopped such practices.

It said high-level orders have been issued to the Commission to immediately enforce the new rules and to step up efforts to combat this phenomenon and other “unacceptable behavior” in public places.


NEWS: Anthony Shadid, Jeremy Lin, Stephen Colbert, And 'The Bodyguard Musical'

Shadid
Road Gary Kamiya's beautiful tribute to deceased Times reporter Anthony Shadid:

... The fate of small people like Karima and her family, unknown, of no political consequence, is easy to forget as nations rush to war and powerful men plan and redraw maps. “Ordinary people are, as Karima recognized, only pawns on a giant board; if one or one thousand of them are swept off, no one notices.” It is one of the functions of journalism, perhaps the noblest, simply to bear witness to these forgotten ones.

Anthony Shadid bore that witness. He died at the age of 43 on the front lines of his profession, of an asthma attack while reporting inside violence-ravaged Syria. He joins the honored list of reporters who gave their lives to give the world the truth. Every journalist, and every American who cares not just the consequences of American wars, but about humanity, owes him a debt. His loss is incalculable.

Road Iran to French and British companies: "No more oil for you." (Saudi Arabia to same French and British companies: "Cool! Buy from us!")

Road Surprising things we learned from Rick Santorum this weekend: 1) It is good for presidents to govern according to a theology; 2) Barack Obama governs according to a theology; 2) But his theology's no good, because it's "not Christian":

Obama's agenda is "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology," Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.

Road Harris poll shows that America now believes Ronald Reagan was the greatest president since WWII. NewsMax thinks this is great news.

Road (Naturally, NewsMax is keeping mum on Harris's latest re: Obama's electoral chances.)

Road JoeMyGod on some ugly possible fallout over the Sheriff Babeu story.

Road The Bodyguard Musical. It exists, and has for a while, but it seems to be on a publicity kick this week.

Road Basketball! When the Jeremy Lin-led Knicks concluded their miraculous winning streak with an ugly loss to the Hornets on Friday, ESPN led with the headline "A Chink In The Armor." Those responsible have been terminated.

Road (Just for the record, the armor's fine: This afternoon, Lin and co. beat the league's defending champs up and down the court.)

Garcia Road John Glenn and Project Mercury vets reunite on the 50th anniversary of Glenn's orbital flight.

Road A libertarian TV network?

Road Omaha wants to ban employment discrimination against LGBT employees. Nebraska's legislature wants to stop them.

Road Gael Garcia Bernal will be Zorro.

Road Colbert will resume taping.


Saudi Man Arrested For Arranging Dates With Other Men

Picture 33Last month, a 30-year-old man was arrested by the religious police in Saudi Arabia for using Facebook to pursue dates with other men, according to Gay Middle East. The man, whose name is not being released, was apprehended on December 23rd and is being held by the police in Dammam, on the Persian Gulf, where after what may be assumed to have been harsh interrogations by local authorities he confessed to arranging "obscenity acts" with members of his own sex.

Punishments for such acts in Saudi Arabia could include fines, flogging, imprisonment, and death. The severity of punishments for individual crimes are left to the discretion of Sunni religious authorities, and vary widely depending upon the identity of the offender. From GME:

Conviction and severity of punishments depends on the social class, religion and citizenship of the accused, whereby non-western migrant workers receive usually harsher treatment than upper class Saudi citizens.

Sami Hamwi, Syria Editor of Gay Middle East, and former Saudi resident explains: “Native born Saudi citizens who are Suni or from the Bedouin tribes in the country are often let off, while punishment are severely executed against minorities like Shiites and or newly naturalised citizens. Punishments regarding homosexuality are also held against expatriates working in Saudi Arabia, especially those coming from Asian, African and Arab countries. Dammam is a largely Shiite area and if the 30 year old aforementioned man is a Shiite, he is likely to be trailed and sentenced harshly.”

News of the arrest came as British PM David Cameron embarked on a brief visit to Saudi Arabia. The British government, which in recent months has explicitly tied the well-being of global LGBTs to its foreign policy, was quick to voice concern for the incarcerated Saudi. Wrote a "British Foreign and Commonwealth spokesperson" to GME:

We are aware of the reports and seeking further information. The UK opposes all discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in all circumstances. We are committed to combating violence and discrimination against LGBT people as an integral part of our international human rights work. We believe that human rights are universal and that LGBT people should be free to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which people of all nations are entitled.

What effect, if any, Cameron's visit may have on the incarcerated Saudi is unknown. Because of the opacity of Saudi Arabia's religious courts, the man's trial and punishment may be conducted in secret.


Gay Former Saudi Diplomat Who Fears for His Life Denied Asylum

Ali Ahmed Asseri, a gay former Saudi diplomat living in Los Angeles, who told NBC in September that "if I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight," has been denied asylum by the U.S..

SaudiAli al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident in Washington, D.C., told Arab news site Rasheed's World that the Obama administration denied the asylum request because "giving refuge to him might upset relations with the kingdom."

“This was a political decision by the Obama administration, who are afraid of upsetting the Saudis,” said Ahmed in a phone interview. “His initial interview with Homeland Security was very positive, but then they came back and grilled him for two days after they found out that he had worked in the public prosecutor’s office in Saudi Arabia. He had been an inspector to make sure that judicial punishments, such as lashings, were carried out within the law—not more, not less. They then accused him of participating in a form of torture,” explained Ahmed.

Asseri is reportedly planning to appeal the decision.


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