By ZEINAB NAJM
Dearborn and Dearborn Heights leaders are stepping forward to condemn the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando after the shooter allegedly pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.
The gunman was identified as Fort Pierce, Fla., resident Omar Mateen, 29, by police after he opened fire on the gay club leaving 49 dead and 53 injured.
Mateen used an AR-15 assault rifle and pistol when he entered the club about 2 a.m. June 12 and began firing before he was shot and killed by police.
At one point during the shooting, he entered the bathroom where he made multiple 911 calls and allegedly pledged his allegiance to ISIS, survivors told police.
Mateen’s father Seddique Mateen said his son previously saw two men kissing in public and had a surprised reaction.
The FBI previously had investigated Mateen for a possible connection to terrorism in 2013 and 2014.
Here in the area, various community leaders and organizations are condemning the crime and showing support for the LGBT community.
“It’s been a tough, emotional 24 hours for many of us,” Brian Stone, an openly gay candidate for the 15th District state House of Representatives, said in a Facebook post. “If there is a reason to feel hope, it’s because so many people have chosen the politics of love.
“So many in the LGBT community are standing up against scapegoating Muslims, and so many Muslims are standing up for the LGBT community. Tragedy shows the worst in humanity, but it can also bring out the best.
“As a gay man who has grown up in Dearborn, all I can say is that the attacker in Orlando does not represent true Islam. If that attacker were a true Muslim he would have saved lives, not taken them.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) also posted about the mass shooting, saying she was stunned by the news.
“The number of dead and wounded is numbing and incomprehensible,” she wrote on Facebook. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, the injured and the community. The first responders deserve our deepest respect and thanks. We must be united as a nation in not allowing hatred and fear to divide us. We must stand united against evil.”
Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja posted a short message on Facebook from a mother’s perspective.
“Today I hugged my kids a little tighter, reminded of how precious life is. #PrayForOrlando”
The Islamic Center of America, 19500 Ford Road, offered prayers for those involved and gratitude for the first responders during the massacre.
“The Islamic Center of America strongly condemns the recent mass murder in Orlando, Florida,” a press release read. “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.”
ACCESS said it stands with the LGBT community in Orlando, metropolitan Detroit and all over the country.
“We at ACCESS are devastated by the recent, horrific attack in Orlando,” its press release read. “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and we extend our deepest sympathies to LGBTQ communities throughout the country, who have suffered greatly in their fight for equal rights and against homophobia. The LGBTQ community has been essential in every movement for justice, and has stood fast with the Arab and Muslim communities in fighting for a more just and equitable society.”
Imam Mohammad Elahi of the Dearborn Heights Islamic House of Wisdom addressed the shooting with a Facebook post calling it insane and that there is nothing in the Quran about killing homosexuals.
“Omar’s ugly crime was an anti-Islamic action,” Elahi wrote. “We as Muslims like the absolute majority of Christians disagree with homosexuality yet no one has the right to take the law into his hand and act as a judge, jury and executor. If it’s true that Omar called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS before his criminal shooting, then enough should be enough for those who support terrorism in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other parts of Middle East and Africa.”
The Campaign to Take on Hate, sponsored by the National Network for Arab American Communities, called for people to stand together against hate and violence after the incident.
“We must stand against crimes of hate, targeted toward any community, and commit ourselves to creating a world where all people can live without the fear that they will be targeted for their sexual orientation, gender, faith, or race,” the statement read. “While people may be inclined to spread the blame for this appalling attack to an entire community or faith, we urge you to not respond to hate with more hate.”
Following the Orlando club shooting, Dearborn police were contacted about a threat made on the Islamic Center of America by the Twitter account @WWCrusade, which is now deactivated.
The tweets read, “19500 ford Rd Dearborn Michigan. Largest muslim mosque in USA. @CrusadeAmericaCleanagain” and “We must execute the Muslim scum! Fill on eradication! Generic weapons unleashed, the filth shall be erased! Rise up. #Crusaders.”
Police are working with the FBI to investigate the tweets and who posted them.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)