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On Monday a site managed by the Duke Islamic Studies Center posted a piece on Muslim responses to the massacre that took place on Sunday in Orlando, Florida.[1]  --  Observing that "mainstream news media only gives scant coverage" to statements from Muslim groups, Ray Hanania of the Arab Daily News also compiled on Monday seven such statements denouncing the atrocity.[2]  --  On Tuesday, Abdul Cader Asmal, a Muslim affiliated with the Islamic Council of New England, wrote in the Arlington (MA) Advocate that Muslims "condemn this vile act" and affirmed that "Muslims remain committed to the extermination of such hatred within and without our country."[3] ...
1.

MUSLIMS RESPOND TO THIS WEEKEND'S MASS SHOOTING AT AN ORLANDO NIGHTCLUB

By Julie Poucher Harbin

ISLAMiCommentary
June 13, 2016

http://islamicommentary.org/2016/06/muslims-respond-to-this-weekends-mass-shooting-at-an-orlando-nightclub/ (See original for further links)

American Muslims were quick to condemn the mass shooting over the weekend at the popular gay nightclub “Pulse” in Orlando, Florida that left at least 49 dead and 53 injured, some critically.

The New York Times (and other outlets) reported that during a series of calls and conversations with the police during the shooting, the Afghan-American gunman Omar Mateen “declared allegiance to the Islamic State.”

It was unclear, however, if Mateen had direct ties to ISIS or if he was even religious at all.

Mateen, according to the New York Times, “had a chilling history that included talking about killing people, beating his former wife and voicing hatred of minorities, gays and Jews; most of his victims were gay, Latino, or both,” and he had made statements to co-workers at a security firm “about being tied to terrorism.”

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As of mid-afternoon on June 13, 2016 nearly $45,000 had been raised by American Muslims on the Launchgood page of “Muslims United for Victims of Pulse Shooting.”

The fundraising appeal read:

"At least 50 people were killed and 50 more wounded in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman went on a horrific shooting spree at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub.  Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history.  They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety.  Far too many Orlando families lost their loved ones in a deplorable act of violence.  This is why a collective of American Muslim leaders and groups have united to raise funds for the victims’ families.

"We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action.  Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:  'Have mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens (God) will have mercy upon you.'  And the Quran teaches to 'Repel evil by that which is better' (41:34).

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SEE ALSO:

The Complicated Pain of America’s Queer Muslims (David Graham, The Atlantic, June 14, 2016) EXCERPT: In the midst of a post-Orlando debate that pits Islamophobia against homophobia, LGBT members of the Islamic community find themselves trying to balance multiple identities.

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DUKE STUDENT’S FACEBOOK POST ELOQUENT ‘ENCOURAGEMENT’ TO MUSLIMS (ABC 11 on June 13, 2016) EXCERPT: “Muslims are not a monolith and it’s not a homogenous category.  It’s a category filled with people from almost every country in the world, people who identify with every single type of sexual orientation or gender orientation, people who have different types of racial backgrounds, and so on.”

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Muslim Americans rush to condemn Orlando massacre (CBS News, June 13, 2016).  EXCERPT:  As the country mourns the victims of this weekend’s Orlando nightclub massacre, members of the Muslim community are sending a clear message:  that Omar Mateen, the man responsible for what is now the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, does not represent them.

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Omar Mateen and Rightwing Homophobia: Hate Crime or Domestic Terrorism? (Juan Cole, Informed Comment, June 13, 2016)

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North Carolina Residents React To Orlando Shooting (Panel including Omid Safi, WUNC “The State of Things,” June 13, 2016)

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Muslim Leader Calls for ‘Overwhelming Love’ in Response to Orlando Shooting (TIME, June 13, 2016)

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I’m a gay man. Don’t use an attack on my community as an excuse for Islamophobia (German Lopez, June 12, 2016)

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Tension over LGBT angle to Orlando massacre (Nahal Toosi, June 12, 2016)

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Statement from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, June 12, 2016:

Dear Friend,

Today, our hearts are heavy with the horrific news of a hateful homophobic mass shooting targeting a gay club in Florida, which has taken the lives of 50 people and injured at least 53 others.  We join with the LGBTQ community and all Americans in expressing our profound outrage, grief, and condemnation of this sickening act of senseless violence that violates all human decency. Hate, bigotry and violence are our common enemy.

We send our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased and injured, and stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ community as we deal with the aftermath of the despicable crime.  We are in touch with federal and local law enforcement about the investigation surrounding this tragedy.

We urge Muslim Floridians to donate blood to aid the injured and to extend their giving and prayers for all those affected by this mass shooting.

MPAC and many other American Muslim groups around the country have strong ties with LGBTQ communities and groups, and have worked together to oppose hate, intolerance, and bullying which impacts both of our communities.

As we all grapple with this senseless tragedy and we learn more about the motives and facts of the case, we will be reaching out to LGBTQ communities with condolences and solidarity. As President Obama said at his press conference this afternoon, let us stand together in our grief and outrage, and our solidarity with the victims and their families.

As Muslims, we believe in religious freedom, civil rights, and human rights.  We reject violence, hatred, and discrimination toward anyone on the basis of race, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin. We support civil rights for all people. May God guide us all as we strive in His cause.

Sincerely,

Salam Al-Marayati
President

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ISNA Offers Condolences to the Families of the Orlando Shooting Victims

June 12, 2016

Plainfield, IN -- The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is outraged by the horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida.

We stand with the victims of this senseless act of violence and mourn with the families of the victims and pray for their ease and comfort during this time of difficulty.

In a statement, ISNA President Azhar Azeez said:  “ISNA sends its condolences and prayers to the families of the victims.  We urge the community to stand united against all acts of violence.”

We encourage our members to donate to help with the immediate, short-term needs of the grieving families and our members in Florida to visit a blood center today to donate blood to help the victims of the shooting.

2.

MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS DENOUNCE ORLANDO MASSACRE

By Ray Hanania

** The leaders of dozens of Muslim American organizations immediately denounced as intolerable and unacceptable the massacre of 49 innocent people Saturday night by a gun-toting American Muslim of Afghan heritage who has previously been identified by the FBI as having extremist connections and views **

Arab Daily News

June 13, 2016

http://thearabdailynews.com/2016/06/13/muslim-organizations-denounce-orlando-massacre/

The leaders of dozens of American Muslim organizations across the country released statements forcefully denouncing the murder of 49 people and injured 53 others at a Gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Investigators said that the killer, Omar Mateen, 29, burst into the nightclub around 2:00 a.m. and opened fire with an automatic AR-15 machine gun as people at the club were drinking, dancing, and socializing.

FBI officials acknowledged that Mateen had been investigated in 2013 and 2014, and also confirmed that the Orlando nightclub shooter dialed 911 as he was killing people 20 minutes into the assault to pledge his allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic terrorist organization that is engaged in brutal violence in the Middle East and Islamic world.  Mateen reportedly also mentioned the Boston bombers in his 911 calls.

Many in the American Muslim community have been vocal against the violence and terrorism, although that has never been enough for most Americans who have embraced American policies that have singled out Muslims and Arabs for scrutiny and discriminatory practices, such as in the Patriot Act.

Rising anti-Muslim hate and discrimination has been the focus of the current elections for president, but have also been vocalized by both Republicans and Democrats in the nearly fifteen years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York City, and the Pentagon.

Racism against Muslims and confusion about Islam and Arabs who are Muslim and Christian, and activism by pro-Israel extremists who have tried to use the violence by Muslims as a means of reinforcing their own propaganda goals in the United States to protect Israel against criticism for its own violence against civilians in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank, and also occupied Jerusalem.

“No matter what Muslim leaders and activists say, many Americans don’t care.  They are racist and hate Muslims and they hate Arabs and much of it has to do with pro-Israel activism.  The Arab haters use this kind of violence to reinforce their policies reinforcing stereotypes against Muslims, Arabs, and anyone who disagrees with American foreign policy in the Middle East,” one American Arab from Detroit who asked not to be identified said in an interview Monday.

“They will say we don’t denounce this kind of violence, when we do.  But the truth is, most Americans are just not listening.  Certainly, though, Muslim leaders can and should do more including distancing themselves from extremist voices who do exist in our community but who have not engaged in violence.”

Although many Muslim and Arab American organizations have issued statements, the mainstream news media only gives scant coverage to the statements, with most of the commentary in most media tending to focus on the negatives surrounding the community.

One of the problems, of course, is that the Arab and Muslim community is overwhelmed with hate and bigotry promoted by the mainstream news media which tries to distinguish between “Muslims” and “Arabs,” and plays down the voices of those that criticize Israel.  And these Arab and Muslim organizations are very inept at writing and issuing press releases.  There are fewer than ninety publications in the Arab and Muslim community and they receive very little support from their own community and even less recognition or support from mainstream Americans.  There are only about a dozen radio and cable TV programs that cover the Arab and Muslim community so it appears that Muslims and Arabs do not forcefully enough denounce these acts of violence.

Here are just a few of the statements denouncing Mateen and his violence that were issued by Muslim American organizations:

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PRESS RELEASE

THE ISLAMIC CENTER OF AMERICA CONDEMNS MASS MURDER IN ORLANDO FLORIDA


** Calls for government leaders to take action on real gun reform and against terrorist groups **

CONTACT:  Kassem Allie, Executive Administrator 313-593-0000

June 13, 2016

DEARBORN, MI -- The Islamic Center of America (ICA) strongly condemns the recent mass murder in Orlando, Florida.  The ICA offers its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this monstrous act of violence.  We join our fellow Americans in repudiating every extremist person or group who would justify an attack on innocent people for any cause or purpose.

This vicious crime is yet another senseless massacre committed by a deranged individual with easy access to military weapons.  Although every individual is responsible for their own actions the Islamic Center believes our government leaders must finally look seriously at the underlying causes that lead to these mass shooting.  First, military weapons capable of killing and injuring over a hundred people within minutes cannot be justified in any civilian’s hands.  Sensible assault rifle reform should be reinstated as the law of the land.  Moreover, robust gun purchase screenings are needed to limit access to weapons of mass murder by mentally unstable individuals.  Especially troubling are sales to those who are already known by law enforcement to have mental health issues or those who are a known legitimate security threat to our country.

Second, our country must step up its fight against terrorist groups like Daesh/ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Al-Nusra, et al.  More importantly, those countries, some of whom we consider allies but act as enablers, must be held accountable for their support of these groups and be told under no uncertain terms, continued support for them is an attack on the United States of America.

Finally, we should never succumb to the obvious provocation being used by extremists to divide or alienate us from one another.  Instead we should use our greatest weapon against the extremist’s agenda which is the very thing that they fear most; our commitment to diversity and adherence to the rule of law that protects the most vulnerable among us.  We also must recognize the campaign against terror is a generational fight.  The fight must be waged vigorously without undermining the values and principles that make our country great.  In the end it is the collective effort of Americans of all faiths, backgrounds, and affiliations that will allow us to prevail.

The Islamic Center and its congregation offer its prayers for the deceased and for the speedy recovery of the injured and its gratitude for those brave first responders who assisted them.

--Headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, the Islamic Center of America is the largest Muslim congregation in the United States.  It is committed to help educate Muslims and Non-Muslims about the Islamic faith and to engage with fellow Americans in working towards greater understanding between all faiths.

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AMP SENDS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILIES OF ORLANDO VICTIMS


American Muslims for Palestine

BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois -- The American Muslims for Palestine, a national grassroots organization dedicated to educating the American public about Palestine and its rich cultural, historical, and religious heritage, sends our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, this past weekend.

Islam tells us that the taking of one innocent life amounts to the killing of all of humanity.  This is a horrific crime for which there is no justification and we grieve over this horrific loss of life.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees all people the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  On Sunday, we awoke to news that fifty people were deprived of their very lives and many injured because of who they are.  We assert that as Americans we can no longer tolerate such hatred in our society.  We must come together to be agents of change and to look toward a future that ensures life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

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PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST MAZEN QUMSIYEH:

Occupied Palestine -- Condolences to the families of the victims of the mass shooting in Florida and to the victims of the bombings in Damascus and Iraq.  Innocent civilians continue to pay a price for the greed of the few who see mayhem and murder as good for their political agenda.  My friend’s car has a sticker “who profits”?

We in Palestine were touched by the funeral and memorial for the great Mohammad Ali.  He was the greatest boxer but was also a great and caring human being.  A very religious man who was an objector to the immoral war on Vietnam, a supporter of justice for Palestinians, and a great philanthropist.

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MICHIGAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY COUNCIL

We Stand Together.

As-Salaam-Alaikum, In the name of God, the Most Merciful.

Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) strongly condemns the horrific Orlando mass killing last night and offers our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims.

These violent acts are unjustifiable and are a gross violation of the tenets of our faith and the spirit of Ramadan, a month of charity, mercy, and forgiveness.  Extremists across the globe are united in the targeting of marginalized or vulnerable communities, often using race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation as a means to vilify other humans.

We call on Michigan’s Muslims to keep the victims and their families in their prayers.  We encourage those in the Orlando-area towards much-needed blood donation drives to help those who are injured.  And we ask everyone to support the Muslims United for Victims of Pulse Shooting crowd funding campaign organized by Detroit-based Launchgood.

Sincerely,
Imam Mohamed Almasmari
MMCC Executive Director

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THE U.S. COUNCIL OF MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS CONDEMNS THE ORLANDO SHOOTING


June 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, expresses its horror over the mass shooting which took place at a nightclub in Orlando, FL, overnight, and offers its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and prays for quick recovery for those who were injured.

The shooting, where over fifty were killed and at least the same number were injured, is an affront to all minorities.  The USCMO stands firmly against all forms of violence committed against any group, regardless of religious affiliation, creed, color, or sexual orientation.  “We condemn such heinous acts by individuals or groups who have no regard for the sanctity of human life” said Oussama Jammal, the secretary general of USCMO.

The right to live free from violence, harassment or intimidation is the most basic human right and must be defended unconditionally.

The USCMO urges the Muslim community in Orlando, Florida, to step up to donate blood and to reach out to the injured and to the families of the victims.

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MUSLIM YOUTH CONDEMN TRAGIC ORLANDO SHOOTING


Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association

** Oldest Muslim youth group offers its condolences and mourns loss of life **

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) -- the male youth auxiliary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA -- conveys its condolences and prayers for the victims of Sunday’s tragic shooting in Orlando.  AMYA categorically condemns this senseless act of violence and prejudice.  The faith of Islam reveres and holds all life as sacred.

“We the members of America’s oldest and most active Muslim Youth association are appalled at the dreadful shooting in Orlando and mourn the loss of innocent life,” said Dr. Bilal Rana, National President of AMYA.  “Our thoughts and sincere prayers are with the victims and their families.  Such acts can never be justified in any shape and for any reason.  We urge all Americans to hold fast together against such violence and hate that seeks to divide and antagonize all of us.”

AMYA applauds the heroic response of law enforcement officials who were able to save many lives.  In these trying times, it is crucial that we stand united against all hatred and extremism as we seek answers to this deadly shooting.

As we mourn the loss of fifty lives, we pray for the recovery of the fifty-three injured and all those affected by this heartless crime.

--The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) is a nationwide youth group that works with young Muslim men and boys around the country.  The association serves as the young men and boys auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.  Officially established in the United States in 1939, AMYA is one of the earliest Muslim Youth organizations in the United States.  AMYA is a dynamic and vibrant association serving not only the needs of its members but of its local communities and nation.  The association is comprised of more than 3,000 men and boys aged 7 to 40, spread across 70 local chapters.  Previous members of AMYA include Grammy Award winning artists and Pulitzer Prize winning journalists.  AMYA is headquartered in Silver Springs, MD.

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THE COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS (CAIR) ISSUED THIS STATEMENT MONDAY:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Tuesday release of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) report “Confronting Fear” will be delayed until further notice due to Sunday’s horrific massacre in Orlando.

CAIR had scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning to release the report.  That news conference has been canceled.

“Our prayers are with the Orlando victims and their families,” said Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia.  “A forthright discussion about all forms of bias is vital to our nation.  However, it is our belief that in the wake of this weekend’s tragedy in Orlando, our nation should focus on addressing anti-LGBT hate.”

--CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.  Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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Guest commentary

BEYOND THE ORLANDO TERROR

By Abdul Cader Asmal

Arlingon (MA) Advocate
June 14, 2016

http://arlington.wickedlocal.com/news/20160614/guest-commentary-beyond-orlando-terror

This week has been an emotionally excruciating roller coaster period for the Muslim community.  From the height of euphoria of seeing Muhammad Ali, a humanitarian, an American, and a Muslim being enthroned as a man of universal admiration, it has plummeted to the despair of witnessing a diabolical individual perpetrate an act of unspeakable evil during the holiest month of Ramadan.  It is especially execrable as it has specifically targeted the LGBTQ community.

Muslims, in solidarity with people of every denomination who will not tolerate such barbarity, condemn this vile act.

Our deepest condolences are extended to the families of the victims and our prayers to the survivors of this demonic attack.  We specifically direct our grief to members of the LGBTQ community who have been subjected to such selective pain and anguish.

While a link between the current act of terror and ISIS has so far not been established, some frightening prospects remain:  the terror was the effort of a lone wolf psychopathic gunman with a history of domestic violence; or it was inspired by, or worse still directed by ISIS.  If directly influenced by ISIS, the future does not augur well for us.  It would appear that ISIS is directly trying to determine the outcome of the presidential campaign.  By stepping up its campaign of terror now, it plans to cast its shadow over the U.S. elections.  Through its bloodthirsty acts, it predicts a more hostile reaction from the U.S. with a leader who would respond with greater aggression, thus drawing us deeper into the current quagmire.

With sustained circumspection, President Obama has refrained from calling ISIS by the name it prefers, “The Islamic State.”  This is because its actions are not “Islamic,” and it is not a state.  Presidential candidates must refuse to grant the legitimacy that “ISIS” desperately craves.  By raising the ante and referring to their barbarity as a consequence of “Islamist terrorism,” not only do we promote their recruitment efforts, but we also fall into their trap of widening the schism between the Muslim world and the rest of civilization.  And it is the “Muslim world” that has the greatest vested interest in eradication of this scourge from within its midst.

As an integral component of this pluralistic society, Muslims remain committed to the extermination of such hatred within and without our country and pledge our unconditional support to all those involved in securing our safety and security be it in law enforcement, government, civic, interfaith, or multicultural forums.

May God Bless America and all of its people and the diversity it promotes.

--Abdul Cader Asmal, a Needham resident, is affiliated with the Islamic Council of New England, The Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, The Needham Clergy Association, and the Needham Human Rights Committee.  The views are those of the author and are not meant to reflect those of any of the institutional affiliates.