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The Orlando shooting, Omar Mateen, Terrorism And Islamophobia

By Binu Mathew

13 June, 2016

The Orlando shooting in a LGBT bar which left 50 dead and 53 injured is an American tragedy of momentous proportions. America with its gun culture and the dominant, vociferous and influential gun rights advocates, Orlando was a tragedy waiting to happen. Let’s mourn the victims. More than that let’s take it as a moment to make sure that no such tragedy happens in the future.

Is that what’s happening right now? I doubt. The CNN headline screams “Orlando shooting: 50 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance”. Within hours of the tragedy President Obama addresses the nation and says "We know enough to say this was an act of terror and act of hate".

Let’s take Obama’s statement first. How does he know, that too within hours of the shooting, with the alleged shooter shot dead by the police “enough to say this was an act of terror”? Well, the public doesn’t know ‘enough’ to know that it was an act of terror. How did the police gather ‘enough’ information within hours and pass on to Obama to say that it was an act of terror? According to police sources, as reported by the media, the alleged shooter is Omar Mateen a 29-years-old of Afghan descent. Is that enough to say that it “was an act of terror”? Does Obama has more information on the alleged shooter that he doesn’t want to share with the public? Now that the alleged shooter is dead isn’t it in public interest that he shares that information with the world so that we should avoid any such tragedy in future?

Obama further said that there was no definitive judgment on the killer's motives, including whether he was affiliated with any terrorist groups. "What is clear is he was filled with hatred". Filled with hatred? How did Obama read the mind of a dead shooter? This speech of Obama is irresponsible and is deliberately fanning hatred. This is only going to raise further the tempo of Islamophobia in American society and elsewhere which Donald Trump raised to a crescendo in his campaign speeches.

Now coming back to the CNN headline “Orlando shooting: 50 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance”. All that one can say is that ‘how convenient’! It’s like so many similar ‘terror attack’ stories where the alleged ‘terrorist’, in 99.99% cases a Muslim, leaves his I.D in the spot for the investigative agencies just to pick up and prove the identity of a Islamist terror network behind the attack. In the Pulse Night Club Omar Mateen didn’t leave an I.D card, but called 911 to ‘pledge allegiance to ISIS’. It was a very kind of the shooter to have called 911 while he was busy shooting down people at random, holding at least 50 people hostage and being surrounded by hundreds of police men firing at him.

The same CNN report says,

Omar Mir Seddique Mateen was born in 1986 in New York. Most recently he lived in Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando. Fearing explosives, police evacuated about 200 people from the apartment complex where he lived while they looked through his residence for evidence.

Mateen's parents, who are from Afghanistan, said he'd expressed outrage after seeing two men kiss in Miami, but they didn't consider him particularly religious and didn't know of any connection he had to ISIS.

He was married in 2009 to a woman originally from Uzbekistan, according to the marriage license, but he filed documents to end the marriage in 2011.

Sitora Yusufiy, interviewed by CNN in Boulder, Colorado, said she and Mateen were together about four months, though it took a long time to complete the divorce because they lived in different parts of the country after separating.

Mateen was a normal husband at the beginning of their marriage but started abusing her after a few months, she said. She said Mateen was bipolar, although he was not formally diagnosed. She also said Mateen had a history with steroids. He was religious but she said she doesn't think his religion played in to the attack.

The same CNN report further says,

At a Sunday afternoon news briefing, FBI Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the agency was aware of Mateen. The FBI interviewed him in 2013 and 2014 after he expressed sympathy for a suicide bomber, Hopper said.

"Those interviews turned out to be inconclusive, so there was nothing to keep the investigation going," Hopper said.

Well, the NSA which keeps a tab on our every fart, as revealed by Edward Snowden, couldn’t keep track on a potential ‘terrorist’! Does it sound credible?

Why can't Obama see the obious? It's as clear as day light that the act was a homophobic attack on LGBT community. The responsibility of President of America is to find out where lies the origin of homophobia in American community and work towards ensuring the protection of rights and life of LGBT community rather than putting blame on a particular community by calling it a terrorist attack before clear evidences emerge.

To conclude, it’s the responsibility of President Obama and FBI to make their story credible and not put a whole community under suspicion.

Binu Mathew is the editor of www.countercurrents.org and can be reached at [email protected]




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