The Orlando massacre will haunt us for a long time. The worst mass shooting in US history—49 dead and 53 wounded—took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, during Pride Month. The perpetrator, Omar Mateen, was an American, born in New York to Afghan parents. A security guard, he was, according to his ex-wife, an angry and sometimes violent man. He bizarrely called 911 in the midst of his rampage to announce his allegiance to the Islamic State, yet his father said, “This had nothing to do with religion,” saying that his son was outraged by the sight of gay men kissing on the street. It was, as President Obama stated, “an act of terror and an act of hate.”
In his address to the country, the president captured what was under attack. “This is a sobering reminder,” he said, “that attacks on any American—regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation—is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.”
Members of the LGBTQ community, only now moving toward equal rights, find themselves once more as casualties of extreme hatred. Across the country, vigils showed expressions of solidarity. Across the country, Muslim organizations and leaders condemned the massacre, which has no religious justification or precedent in Islam, just as it has none in US law. In a moving statement, the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity called on all Americans “to resist forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia and transphobia, as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Tragedies often lead people to seek someone or something to blame, but we ask our friends to resist this temptation. Let us instead recommit ourselves to working toward a world without hatred and prejudice.” Yet members of the Muslim community—Shiite, Sunni, Christian and agnostic—once more face even greater suspicion, surveillance and the threat of violence.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.