Russian Islamic religious leader has dubbed Elton John "the devil's work" and called for a boycott of the openly homosexual rock star's concerts in Moscow and Kazan in early December.
Seidzhagfar Lutfullin, a conservative imam from Russia's predominantly Muslim Tartarstan region, said the singer's promotion of same-sex relations could be a Sodom and Gomorrah moment for Russia.
Branding the British rock singer as "the devil's work in the shape of a pederast," in remarks published on the web site of Kazan’s Thousandth Anniversary of Islam Mosque, the imam warned that God could rain destruction on cities as revenge for supporting what he dubbed sexual delinquency.
“Sodomy…is what the world famous homosexual Elton John, (sic) who recently wed a man in public, is promoting,” the imam said in undated remarks made public in the Russian media Thursday.
The imam said followers of Islam should stay away from the music star's Kazan concert, scheduled for Dec. 8, a day after his show at Moscow's Crocus City Hall venue.
John, 66, has long been a poster-boy for gay rights. He is in a British civil partnership with his partner David Furnish, and the men have a three-year old son, Zachary, born in California in 2010 via a surrogate mother.
He has said he will defend gay rights during his Russian tour – a stance that puts him at risk of getting a sentence of 15 days in prison and a 5,000 roubles ($150) fine under newly adopted laws here preventing the promotion of homosexuality to children.
Last week, another Russian religious group, the Christian group Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, called for a ban on John's concerts. "The statement by this gay guy – Elton John – about his support for gays and other perverts during the upcoming concert in Moscow is an insult to all Russian citizens," the group's coordinator said.
Another conservative group, the Ural Parents Committee, has called on Russian president Vladimir Putin to keep John from performing the Kazan concert.
Madonna, Rammstein and Lady Gaga are among international acts that have made statements supporting gay rights at recent Russian gigs but escaped prosecution.
John, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998, has sold more than 300 million records worldwide during his 40-year career.