Image attribution: Fibonacci Blue, Flickr
By Darren Tendler (editor of the soon to be released SPECTRUM magazine).
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American Muslim of Afghan descent, murdered 49 people and injured 53 others at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, Florida, before he was shot and killed by police.
This was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunmen in the modern history of the United States of America.
It was the largest mass killing of LGBT+ people in the Western world since the Holocaust.
It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the USA since the 2001 September 11 attacks.
Omar carried out the massacre with a a Sig Sauer MCX (a descendant of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle) and a 9mm Glock 17 handgun.
Those trapped inside the night club during the shooting called and messaged family and friends.
Omar reportedly made two calls to 911, where he expressed sympathy for the Boston Marathon bombers and claimed he was carrying out the night club assault for the Islamic State.
Survivors reported Mateen shouted he “wouldn’t stop his assault until America stopped bombing his country”.
Survivors noted people thought the gunshot sounds were firecrackers or music, that many patrons attempted to save others, and that one hostage hid in the bathroom under the bodies of victims.
Omar’s father said he had seen his son become noticeably angry after witnessing a gay couple kissing at the Bayside Marketplace in Miami, months before the shooting.
Omar’s former wife, classmates and night club goers have all claimed Omar frequented Pulse.
Omar’s former wife also said he used the gay dating application, Grindr.
Analysts have stated ISIS’ claims of responsibility for this atrocity are likely to be indicative of the group’s “desperation” to bolster its image.
Authorities said there is no evidence to suggest Omar was directly instructed by ISIS.
President Barack Obama noted the massacre was “an example of home-grown extremism” and it appeared “the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the Internet.”
The Orlando shooting raises issues about American gun control, the threat of terrorism in the name of Islam, and homophobia (and other sexual orientation and gender related loathings).
The spread of Islamic extremism across the Internet and subsequent atrocities carried out in the name of Islam (even when not organised by ISIS), demonstrate how powerful and destructive the ideas of ‘Jihad’, a ‘Caliphate’ and ‘Sharia Law’ are.
It depicts how ISIS (and its social presence) has successfully ‘branded’ this form of terror to the point where Islamic extremism is being used as ‘inspiration’ and a ‘justification’ for such violence.
The massacre also reiterates the extent of the immoral and vindictive persecution of LGBT+ people across the world.
Chad Griffin, American political strategist and head of the Human Rights Campaign, noted the following:
“The maniac who did this was somehow conditioned to believe that LGBT people deserve to be massacred. And he wasn’t just hearing these messages from ISIL. He was hearing it from politicians and radical anti-LGBT extremists here in our own country.”
“Every time we see legislation that puts a target on the back of LGBT people; every time a preacher spews hate from the pulpit; every time a county clerk says that acknowledging [LGBT] relationships violates her religious beliefs – it sends a signal that LGBT people should be treated differently and worse.”
While recognising this event is tied to Islamic extremism and legitimate gun control issues, we must also acknowledge the crime is yet another example of the horrific forms of LGBT+ hate that still exist across all societies.
Such barbarity, evident to an even greater extent in non-Westernised areas of the world where LGBT+ people are murdered on a daily basis, surely must now be understood as a global concern, if it hadn’t already been obvious.
About Darren Tendler
Freelance and contracted journalist working for myself, Race Media (digital media company specialising in gambling, racing, sports & gaming content) and TAT. I completed a Bachelor of Journalism degree at Monash University in 2013, and am the editor of the FORUM magazine. My writing largely focuses on topical social issues.
Profile: View Darren's profile here