Muslims across America showed an outpouring of support for victims after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history left at least 50 people dead in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub.
The founder of Make Space, an Islamic Center near Washington, D.C., told VOA's Afghan Service that "shooting innocent humans is a cowardly act that every Muslim and every human being should condemn."
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement that said, "We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence."
Imam Tariq Rasheed of the Islamic Center of Orlando said, "No religious tradition can ever justify nor condone such ruthless and senseless acts of violence."
The Islamic Society of Central Florida condemned the attack and posted on its Facebook page: "We stand united as Americans against any act of violence that tries to bring fear and division to our communities."
Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the group American Islam, said, “We condemn the person who did this, whatever ideology he had. No lives should be lost because of anger and hate.” He said he does not know what can be done for what seems like one mass shooting after another. “I condemn all acts of terrorism, especially those done in the name of my faith.”
Medical personnel examine a body at the Orlando Medical Examiner's Office, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. A gunman opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, before being killed in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said.
‘Goal of extremism is to create divisions’
In Washington, Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the attack was "a hate crime, plain and simple." He said CAIR’s sympathies lie with the LGBT community, and that the goal of extremism is to create divisions among as many social groups as possible.
“As Muslims, as Americans, now is the time to speak out and make it clear, we will not give in to hate, and we will not give in to fear,” Awad said. Noting that the shooter had reportedly pledged allegiance to Islamic State, Awad said to the terror group and its supporters: “How will you stand before God and answer for your crimes against innocent people, thousands of innocent people, Muslims, Christians and other minorities? You do not speak for us, you do not represent us. You are an aberration, an outlaw.”
The Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which works to support and empower LGBTQ Muslims, said in a statement, "This tragedy cannot be neatly categorized as a fight between the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community. As LGBTQ Muslims, we know that there are many of us who are living at the intersections of LGBTQ identities and Islam. At moments like this, we are doubly affected. We reject attempts to perpetuate hatred against our LGBTQ communities as well as our Muslim communities."
Several Muslim organizations across the country, including the Florida chapters of CAIR and the Muslim Council of America, are asking their members to donate blood in solidarity with the victims in Orlando.