By S.Mubashir Noor, New Age Islam
Cashing in on tragedy is Politics 101. Following the Orlando nightclub shooting on June 12 by a disturbed Muslim man of Afghan origin that felled 49 gay men and women, conservative politicians in America generally loathe to acknowledging LGBTQ rights of any kind have hijacked the trauma to nudge national talking points away from gun control and towards their favorite bogey, radical Islam.
While reticent to specifically name the LGBTQ community as target of a clear hate crime dressed up as domestic terrorism, conservatives packed their Twitter feeds with somber messages of support for the Orlando “victims,” calls for a “moment of silence” for the fallen and promises to safeguard the “American way of life.”
A way of life increasingly at odds with Muslims living in the US, or so the right-wing press would have you believe. Republican presumptive nominee for president, Donald Trump, had a field day sneering “I told you so” after he was broadly panned by his party leadership last December for proposing a temporary ban on all Muslims from entering the US. His “suggestion” followed the San Bernardino shooting spree perpetrated by a radicalized Muslim couple that left 14 dead.
Trump, who inches closer to the White House with every episode of mass murder committed by a Muslim on US soil, also ripped into President Barack Obama, demanding he “immediately resign in disgrace” if hesitant to frame the Orlando shooting as “radical Islamic terrorism.” Obama, in turn, mocked Trump for thinking there was “magic to the phrase 'radical Islam’” that would miraculously add zip to coalition strikes against ISIS militants in the Middle East and make their leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi quake in his boots.
Moreover, very deftly, the alarming fact that a civilian like Omar Mateen, the identified shooter, could legally buy a Sig Sauer assault-style rifle—a “weapon of war” more suited to ambushing the Taliban than hunting deer—with minimal background checks was shunted sideways to favor the Islamic terrorism angle. Easily discarded also was the FBI’s gross negligence in keeping tabs on Mateen despite tagging him to two federal watch-lists.
This made some pundits wonder if the Orlando attack, the worst mass shooting in US history, was a false flag operation abetted by federal authorities to sharpen focus on Obama’s case for tighter gun control laws, a move conservatives decry as a clear violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Recent public polls, meanwhile, show tepid support for banning assault rifles altogether, but greater traction for harder access to such guns.
29-year old Mateen was, by all accounts, a man struggling with his latent homosexuality besides juggling other mental health issues. Witnesses who came forward after Sunday’s carnage claim to have seen him in Pulse, the targeted nightclub, at least a few times. Mateen is also believed to have frequented other local LGBTQ bars and used gay dating apps to pick up men. His first wife filed for divorce two years into their marriage after the physical abuse became unbearable.
Does this man remotely sound like someone on a mission from Allah? Even the most twisted, takfiri kind pushed by puritanical Wahhabism? I don’t see it. Mateen needed psychiatric help, but was never flagged by his employers despite complaints from coworkers who have since recounted their stories to the media. Some of them divulged that Mateen had, at different times, boasted of his ties to ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah without realizing these groups were sworn enemies.
Furthermore, Mateen’s only link to ISIS is a tenuous, self confessed one courtesy of the 911 call he made in the middle of his nightclub rampage when he pledged fealty to the militant group. It seemed almost like an afterthought, the last act of a deranged man hoping to hog the headlines a little longer than a lone wolf terrorist would. His selfishness will cost American-Muslims dearly.
NewAgeIslam columnist, S. Mubashir Noor is Freelance journalist based in Pakistan.
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