In the wake of the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead and 53 injured, it behooves us to inspect some of the attitudes within Florida’s Muslim community which might lead toward such horrific actions. In doing so, maybe we can have a better understanding of the mindset of the shooter.
At approximately 2:00 AM, on June 12, 2016, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub, a gay or LGBT establishment located in Orlando, Florida, and began shooting. Roughly 20 minutes later, Mateen dialed 9-1-1 and pledged his allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS. At approximately 5:00 AM, he was shot and killed by police. Before he died, he managed to murder at least 49 people.
Mir Seddique Mateen, the father of attacker Omar Mateen, told NBC News that his son had not been motivated by religion. He said that this incident had stemmed from when he, his son, his daughter-in-law, and his grandson had visited Downtown Miami, and there, Omar had witnessed two men kissing in front of his wife and his son and had gotten very angry. He said Omar was also upset after seeing men kissing in a men’s bathroom, there.
While it is possible that the father is correct, the probability is that religion played at least some role in what Omar Mateen had done. This is especially the case given the fact that, during the killing process, he had went through the trouble of pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State, a terrorist group based on religious fundamentalism.
In Florida, there are a number of examples of Islamic Fundamentalism targeting homosexuals with bigotry and/or death.
One that has been widely reported on deals with the case of Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a British-born doctor and Muslim scholar who lives in Iran and has made a strong presence in North America, where he is invited to give lectures.
In April 2013, Sekaleshfar gave a speech at the University of Michigan, where he called for the execution of homosexuals. He stated, “Death is the sentence. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence. We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals, it’s the same. Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”
This past March, a little over two months prior to the Orlando attack, Sekaleshfar was in Florida to speak at the Husseini Islamic Center, an institution which is located less than a half-hour from the Pulse. His speech was titled, ‘How to deal with the phenomenon of homosexuality.’
Another case is that of Maulana Shafayat Mohamed, the Trinidad-born founder and imam of the Darul Uloom mosque, located in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
A number of terrorists have passed through Darul Uloom. They include “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla, who was a student at Darul Uloom; now-deceased al-Qaeda Global Operations Chief Adnan el-Shukrijumah, who was a prayer leader there; and Darul Uloom Arabic teacher Imran Mandhai and mosque goers Hakki Aksoy and Shueyb Mossa Jokhan, who hatched an operation at the mosque to blow up different South Florida structures, including area power stations, Jewish businesses, and a National Guard armory.
Shafayat Mohamed, himself, has been thrown off many Broward County boards for preaching against homosexuals. He said it was a matter of “sitting in Paradise [sitting on the boards] or going to Hell.” In February 2005, an article written by him was/is published on the Darul Uloom website, entitled ‘Tsunami: Wrath of God.’ In it, he claims that gay sex caused the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. Besides homosexuals, the article also attacks Jews and Christians, whom he refers to as “People of the Book,” claiming that most are “perverted transgressors.”
One final case [final only within the bounds of this article as there are potentially many more unreported cases] deals with the Tampa chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS). In November 2014, the government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) labeled MAS a terrorist organization, placing the group on a list which included al-Qaeda and ISIS. MAS has, a number of times, used the internet to propagate material that is bigoted against Jews, Christians, women and homosexuals.
On the official MAS-Tampa website, from June 2004 through July 2006, the group had an anti-gay publication of Islamic Jurisprudence on its site, titled ‘Usul Al-Fiqh Al-Islami.’ The piece was edited by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an organization that had its Virginia offices raided by the FBI in a March 2002 probe that targeted over a dozen businesses accused of financing terrorism.
Regarding the killing of homosexuals, the piece states, “Khalid ibn al Walid wrote to Abu Bakr, telling him that in some areas of the Arabian Peninsula he had found men engaging in homosexual practices. Abu Bakr decided to consult the Sahabah [companions] of the Prophet (PBUH) as to what he should do about it... Abu Bakr wrote back to Khalid to tell him that they should be burnt to death; and this was done.”
While Omar Mateen did not burn his victims, the group he pledged allegiance to, ISIS, has. And no matter the means of the murders, by bullets or fire, they were carried out for the same sick reasons, which were bigotry and terror, the same bigotry and terror that is represented by the words of the Muslim clerics and the anti-homosexual MAS publication.
And whether Omar Mateen’s father wants to believe it or not – or whether he is hiding the truth from the public or not – the probability is that the shooter’s Islamic religion played a role in the attacks and probably a big role.