A leading Russian Muslim cleric cautioned fans who plan to attend upcoming concerts by openly gay singer Elton John that they face “Divine Retribution,” following the star’s statement of support of the country’s LGBT community.
He warned that the star’s “promotion of homosexuality” could lead to “Sodom and Gomorrah” in Russia, and that God could rain destruction on cities where he plans to perform his concerts as punishment.
“Sodomy… is what the world-famous homosexual Elton John, who recently wed a man in public, is promoting.
“The only thing we can do as believers is to call the people not to give into the temptations of the devil and not attend Elton John’s Russian concerts,” said Seidzhagfar Lutfullin, the imam of a mosque in the Volga city of Kazan, to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, on Thursday.
“Divine retribution for taking part in a hotbed of sodomy will fall both on those who attend the concert and those who perform there,” he added.
Lutfullin, the imam of Zakaban mosque in Kazan, a city with a large ethnic Tatar Muslim community, is known for making outspoken statements.
He also labeled the British singer on the mosque’s website as “the devil’s work in the shape of a pederast.”
A number of prominent Western celebrities, including Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Tilda Swinton have criticized Russia for discriminating against LGBT people after President Vladimir Putin in June signed a federal law banning the so-called promotion of homosexuality to minors.
LGBT rights say the law can be used to prevent the staging of any public event and publication of information that is connected with LGBT issues, constituting a basic breech for freedom of assembly and speech.
Similar regional laws have been used to stop gay pride parades and justify the imprisonment and fining of LGBT rights advocates.
The star risks spending 15 days in Russian custody and a fine if he violates the recently passed federal law.
John’s concerts are set to take place in Moscow and Kazan in December.
Last month he told the UK daily The Guardian that, as a gay man, he felt he had to go and support the Russian LGBT community despite uncertainty about his reception.
John’s planned concerts have already prompted a protest from a conservative parents’ group in the Urals.