An Act Of Terrorism Or An Act Of Homophobia

Mass shooting at a gay nightclub PULSE at Orlando, Florida has left everyone speechless. This is one of the worst massive shooting in American History where 50 people were killed and 53 people injured by a single gunman.

On Sunday morning, June 12, when people of Florida were still trying to understand the murder of The Voice star, Christina Grimmie on Saturday night, at the Plaza, Orlando, Florida, came the news of this massive shootout at a gay nightclub which has raised fear in the minds and hearts of the LGBTQ community as well as among the people of Florida.

It is still not clear what made Omar Mateen to allegedly walk into the club with an assault rifle and kill 50 people. But according to the reports, Mateen’s father said that he might know what might have triggered the killing. He told NBC news, that Mateen had been enraged by the sight of two men kissing each other months earlier, and said that might be related to the massacre. While the authorities claim Mateen called the police before the attack and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Questions have been rising whether this mass shooting was an act of homophobia Or an act of terrorism?

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Even with many indicators it is yet not clear, we cannot label the act, since according to sources, Mateen was reportedly regular at the gay nightspot and used gay dating apps. A few of the clubgoers have reported to seeing him often at the club. A few others have claimed him to have been using multiple gay apps, including Grindr, with mutual acquaintances “to hook”. If it really is so, then his going and killing people 50 people at a gay club doesn’t explain. Was it really the two men kissing he had seen trigger such violence? Isn’t such a scene common at a gay club? If he was really homophobic why would he visit gay clubs often.

Indeed, even if the motive hasn't been established, the attacks are likely to have the effect of turning gay clubs into targets, and leaving some in the LGBTQ community afraid to go to them. The Islamic State, to which Mateen allegedly pledged allegiance before carrying out the attack, betrays horrific intolerance towards people from the LGBTQ community in Muslim societies around the world.

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But yet again, the thing is Mateen himself didn’t grow up in a Muslim society. He was born in New York and grew up in an environment where he surely must have witnessed the evolution of LGBTQ rights movement over the last few decades. James Comey, FBI Chief, said, Mateen had been “radicalised” while consuming online propaganda and that he had claimed allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a series of calls during the attack. Although yet again, US authorities said they had found no direct links between Islamic State and Mateen, the US-born son of Afghan immigrants.

So what really is it? Just because Mateen pledged to Islam before killing, is it right to link Islam and terrorism and demonise Muslims, or call it a homophobic act. Whatever this is, one thing is very clear, as President Obama also said, this is an act of hate. This is not just about the 50 people killed in Orlando, it is about every queer person who is endangered not only by gunmen, but by homophobic religious leaders, tweeting politicians, violent family members, coworkers, classmates, neighbours, creators of media and more. Today when lots of Indian politicians take to twitter to sympathize with the massacre, they forget that with India, the fear among LGBTQ community is not from outside but in-built. Gay sex is still illegal. Section 377, a colonial law that criminalises “unnatural sex”, remains on the books in India.

Once again religion and violence are brought on the same platform. Whatsoever may have instigated Mateen to such a horrifying shootout, this attack will be the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the 9/11 attacks.