An image posted to Instagram by Western University depicting two women in hijabs about to kiss was deleted after being deemed "inappropriate" by the Muslim community.
On Tuesday, social media was flooded with posts marking "International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia," also known as "IDAHOTB."
Most highlighted a diverse range of people, and Western University's post was no different. It included, among others, an interracial gay couple, a disabled couple, and two women in hijabs leaning in to kiss one another. The latter drew ire from the London, Ontario Muslim community, leading the university to delete the post altogether.
According to the National Post, local Muslim leader Iman Abd Alfatah Twakkal called the image "inappropriate," and said the community was drafting a response.
"We respect the human rights of everyone as protected under Ontario’s human rights bill," Twakkal said. "While we appreciate that the intent is to promote inclusion, the poster is doing the opposite. Singling a Muslim religious symbol in that setting is inappropriate."
As the National Post reports, a petition to remove the post garnered over 2,000 signatures.
"It should be made clear that this is not an attack on the LGBT+ community, and the existence of queer Muslims is acknowledged," the petition noted, adding that what was portrayed in the post was "extremely disrespectful, insensitive and completely imperceptive to the Muslim community at large."
Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam, and is still a taboo topic in the majority of the Muslim community, even in Canada.
Western University's equity, diversity, and inclusion authorities issued their own statement, explaining why they had decided to delete the post.
"We believe this presents an opportunity for genuine, thoughtful discussion about how we can best support members of the Queer Muslim community, and those from all faiths and backgrounds within the 2SLGBTQ+ community," said equity leader Opiyo Oloya.
"In order to promote that discussion, we have removed the image from the post to not distract from these important conversations."
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