The nation watches in horror as the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando continues to unfold. We have learned that Omar Mateen, a mentally unstable, allegedly closet homosexual with a history of drunken stupors, violent, odd, and abusive behavior, conducted the most deadly mass shooting of this century. Meanwhile, the American-Muslim community waits in terror for the backlash.
Sadly, Muslims in this nation are constantly aware of the potential for backlash due to the negative imagery of Islam and Muslims, which will open the floodgates for the ignorant and unhinged to threaten, and possibly hurt members of this community.
Thanks to mainstream media, the continuous blaming of Islam and reporting of alleged connections to ISIS, further allows for the pot of hatred in this country towards a community of faith to boil over.
Will the vilification of Islam and Muslims come to an end? Are we ever to expect that the media will provide the same coverage of a mass shooting as they do when the perpetrator is a White male? Most likely not.
In fact, we have seen the names of White male mass shooters are long forgotten as the focus remains on the victims, their stories, and their families. The last few days have proven that victims of crimes committed by someone claiming to be of the Islamic faith are not as important as the media’s whoring of a religion practiced by 1.5+ billion people.
Once gain, Muslim Dearborn residents anxiously wait, fearing for their safety as countless social media trolls reference the city and its religious institutions, calling for people to “kill the Muslim scum” and “eradicate Muslims from the face of the Earth.” The City of Dearborn is home to the largest concentrated population of Muslims in the US.
As organizations, houses of worship, and community leaders voice their solidarity with the citizens of this nation and the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando, holding vigils, launching fundraising efforts, and hosting press conferences in coordination with interfaith and LGBTQ+ community leaders, there is never enough being done or said.
Many refuse to believe that the American Muslim community are just as shocked, revolted, and saddened by such a tragedy on US soil, and that we are all one and the same. This type of negative imagery and insidious rhetoric, from politicians, leaders, and the media, only seeks to further incite hate and fear.
While media outlets continue to call this an act of terror and dismiss the fact that the shooter was an American born citizen with no solid ties to any radical groups abroad (and was mentally unstable), Muslim communities across the nation are left to defend themselves, their religion, and their commitment to this country while the entire faith is smeared, criticized, and maligned.
Recently, the Michigan Muslim Community Council co-sponsored a Launchgood effort to raise funds for the victims of the Orlando shooting. CAIR-Michigan and other faith leaders stood in solidarity with LGBTQ+ leaders to denounce such appalling actions and remind people that this is not Islamic in any capacity.
Leaders and community members have held prayer meetings, interfaith vigils, and showed their solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community through social media posts, newspaper articles, and blogs.
Our Muslim community continues to speak out against such atrocities and reminds the media of their duty to be responsible in their reporting. If we are going to malign an entire community because of one bad apple, shouldn’t past mass shooters, the majority being White males of the Christian faith, be given the same? When will common sense and understanding prevail as we address the reality that divine scriptures call for compassion, love, and charity – and not hate, killing, and adversity.