The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida by a deranged New York-born Muslim has again given anti-Muslim bigots and xenophobes the opportunity to target the beleaguered community. The assailant, Omar Mateen was of Afghan parentage and that was enough for the likes of Donald Trump to come out blazing with both guns demanding shutting of all mosques and banning Muslims' entry into the US. Did easy access to guns have nothing to do with it?
Monday June 13, 2016, 16:17 DST
The shootings early Sunday morning of June 12 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida has again evoked extreme anti-Muslim sentiment because the assailant was a ‘Muslim’ born to Afghan immigrant parents.
The New York-born Omar Mateen, 29, was immediately branded a terrorist and it was claimed his motive was based on religion.
Let us first understand the information that has been provided by official sources. Mateen is believed to have entered the nightclub armed with an assault rifle and an automatic weapon. He had purchased these legally in the week prior to the attack, according to Trevor Velinor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Mateen was a security guard with G4S, a security company and, therefore, had security clearance (security guards must go thorough intense screening before they are hired).
He was known to the FBI and had been interrogated twice in 2013 related to statements/threats he had issued. He was not arrested or considered dangerous at the time. He was again interrogated in 2014 without being arrested.
A police spokesman revealed that during the attack, Mateen had called 911 and claimed he supported ISIS, according to the Los Angeles Times of Sunday June 12.
His ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy told reporters in Boulder, Colorado, he was bipolar. “He was mentally unstable and mentally ill,” she said. Yusufiy also revealed that he was abusive and their marriage did not last more than four months although the divorce did not come through for two years.
Additional information provided by Yusufiy is that Mateen was planning to become a police officer and that he was into bodybuilding and was “religious”.
Syed Shafeeq Rahman, Imam at the Fort Pierce Islamic Center where Mateen prayed three to four times a week said, he was quiet and did not socialize with people.
The death toll at the Pulse nightclub is put at 49 with 53 injured. Were all the dead the result of Mateen’s shooting or some died because of SWAT police that brought an armored personnel carrier knocking down one of the walls of the nightclub. There was also heavy police shooting.
Reaction to the shooting has been along party lines. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, immediately declared he was proved right. He again called for shutting down all mosques in the US and not allowing Muslims to enter the country. He also called for keeping a database of all Muslims in the US (it already is; does Trump doesn’t know that?)
Trump did not explain whether Mateen’s birth in New York (Trump is also from the Big Apple!), working for an American security company, G4S, and being mentally unstable had anything to do with the dastardly crime.
President Barack Obama issued a statement calling it a hate crime and an act of terror. Trump denounced Obama for not blaming “radical Islam” for the attack and demanded that the president resign immediately!
Among Democrats, there were renewed calls for ban on sale of assault rifles. After each shooting, such calls are made, only to be stalled in the Republican controlled Congress until the next shooting.
Only the US Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson said people should not politicize the Orlando nightclub mass shooting. He expressed sympathy for the victims and said "It's a time to mourn, be strong & be what makes America great." Johnson called on Americans to allow the authorities to continue their investigations.
Did Mateen’s mental health have anything to do with the mass shooting? Did someone manipulate him for their own ulterior agenda? We will never know because dead men do not speak.
Muslims in the US and around the world have condemned the attack but that would not deter racists, bigots and other rightwing fascists in the US from attacking Muslims, targeting mosques and vandalizing their property.
Fox News would have a field day with this shooting. This is what is called freedom in America!
Just for the record, there have been other mass shootings in the US that were not branded as based on hate or described as terrorist acts.
April 16, 2007: Virginia Tech shooting where 32 people were killed and 17 injured in two separate attacks in Blacksburg, VA. The assailant was 23-year-old student Seung Hui Cho before taking his own life.
April 20, 1999: Columbine High School shooting that left 15 dead and 24 injured in Littleton, Colorado (CO). The perpetrators were white teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
June 20, 2012: Movie Theatre shooting in Aurora, CO; 12 dead and 70 others injured by James Eagan Holmes. He was dressed in tactical uniform and had multiple weapons.
December 14, 2012: Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children and six children were shot dead by Adam Lanza, in Newton, CT.
None of the above was described as an act of terror. Only when Muslims are involved does it become an act of terrorism. So there we have it.