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Comments prompted by attack

Jun 16,2016 - Last updated at Jun 16,2016

Much mystery surrounds the bloodiest massacre in modern US history, which took place in Orlando, Florida, where 49 Americans were killed and 53 others were wounded last Sunday at a popular gay nightclub.

The incident prompted various groups to launch conflicting theories about the objectives of the US-born gunman, who two years ago was reportedly in touch with another American who had driven a truck loaded with explosives into a hilltop restaurant in Syria.

“FBI agents”, reported The New York Times on Tuesday, “scoured his online postings and interviewed his contacts in Florida in a scramble to determine who, if anyone, might try to launch a similar attack in the United States.”

The man they spoke to at the time was Omar Mateen, then a young security guard who frequented the same mosque that the suicide bomber in Syria did. 

But FBI ended the investigation after finding no significant evidence.

Sunday’s horrific incident triggered several oral blasts from American leaders like Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, who, The Washington Post reported, “escalated his already controversial rhetoric about immigrants… even though the shooter was born in New York”.

The paper added that in a speech “laden with falsehoods and exaggeration”, Trump accused American Muslims of “harbouring terrorists and blamed them for the Orlando attack as well as for last December’s shooting in San Bernardino, California”.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presumptive presidential nominee, said she was not shying away from using the term “radical Islamism” to describe the attack in Orlando, and that she has a plan to defend the nation from ”lone wolf” attacks.

But “I’m not going to demonise and demagogue” like Trump because “it’s plain dangerous”.

Israel jumped on the bandwagon to advance its designs. Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel advocated taking full control of more than half of the West Bank and removing the Palestinian residents from the Israeli-occupied Arab territory, arguing that the world should forget about a Palestinian state.

The Washington-based delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation this week strongly condemned “the violent terrorist” act in Florida, stressing that the threat of extremist groups like Daesh “reaches far beyond our regions … a threat against all humanity that must be confronted by all of us”.

In contrast to Trump’s racist remarks, last weekend, at the memorial ceremony that praised Muhammad Ali, the legendary American boxer who had converted to Islam, Rabbi Michael Lerner, the popular radical editor of Tikkun Magazine, said: “We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people.”

That comment was seen as a thinly veiled criticism of Trump for favouring a ban on Muslim emigration to the United States.

Another comment, addressed at Hillary Clinton, said loud and clear: “Tell Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that the way to get security for Israel is to stop the occupation of the West Bank and help create a Palestinian state.”



The writer is a Washington-based columnist.

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