Launch Radio Networks reports: Freddie Mercury would have been 60 years old next Tuesday (September 5), but there's some dispute in his homeland about whether he should be celebrated. The late QUEEN frontman was born Farrokh Bulsara on the East African island of Zanzibar, which is now part of Tanzania, and some conservative Muslims want to block any official recognition of the man or the day. Abdallah Said Ali, who is the leader of the group The Association For Islamic Mobilization And Propagation, wrote to the local culture ministry and said that because the singer was gay and died of AIDS, "Associating Mercury with Zanzibar degrades our island as a place of Islam." Ali also wrote, "Allowing such a function for a person known outside Zanzibar as a homosexual tarnishes the name of Zanzibar... Let us protect our good culture."
Not everyone agrees, however. Simai Mohamed Saidi, who owns a theme restaurant called "Mercury's," is moving forward with a party on Saturday (September 2), and he told the AFP news service, "I plan to ask the authorities to advocate Mercury because he was an artist who advertised Zanzibar abroad."
There's been no official response from the government either for or against honoring Mercury.
According to AFP, Zanzibar is almost 99 percent Muslim, though most are thought to be moderate, and the local government works hard to balance the desires of observant Muslims with the tourism industry and people who lead more secular lives.