Who is Farrokh Sekaleshfar?
Not much is known about Farrokh Sekaleshfar. However, he burst onto the news scene following Sunday’s Pulse nightclub shooting, where Orlando man Omar Mateen-possibly inspired by Daesh (ISIS)-killed over 50 people and wounded several others at the local gay hangout.
Sekaleshar gave a sermon at the Husseini Islamic center a few weeks earlier, reportedly entitled “How to deal with the phenomenon of homosexuality.” In the past, Sekaleshfar has allegedly called for gays to be put to death, which he has subsequently backtracked from. So who is Sekaleshfar?
Sekaleshfar was born in Britain, and currently lives in the holy city of Qom, Iran. He is a reportedly a medical doctor, and a scholar of some importance in the Shia tradition.
His past statements on homosexuality are troubling indeed. “Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now,” he said in a talk at the University of Michigan in 2013.
Since the attack, though, Sekaleshfar has clarified his comments, saying they only applied in certain instances and denounced Mateen’s actions. “It arises in particular scenarios and it's such a small probability that I've never even heard of such a scenario arising, where in such a country, with such a mandate, where the rule of law is Islam, there were homosexual couples … commit anal copulation in public — no-one does that,” he said after the shooting according to Australia’s ABC News.
The now controversial imam said the comments were academic, and completely condemned Sunday’s attack, saying “Never have I incited hatred or violence against human beings,” according to The Daily Mail.
Moreover, there’s no evidence of a link between Sekaleshfar and Mateen. Mateen had been on the FBI’s radar as early as 2013, and reportedly admired jihadist groups long before Sekaleshfar's arrival to Orlando.