As the country mourns the victims of this weekend's Orlando nightclub massacre, members of the Muslim community are sending a clear message: that Omar Mateen, the man responsible for what is now the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, does not represent them.
In an avalanche of social media posts, interviews and statements, American Muslims conveyed despair and outrage at the attack on a LGBT club known for embracing all people.
In statement, the organization Muslim Advocates, which advocates for Muslim Americans, said it stands hand-in-hand with LGBT Americans in this moment of crisis.
"The LGBTQ community has stood side by side with the American Muslim community during challenging and difficult times. We stand together against hatred, violence and demonization of entire communities. Today, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Your grief is our grief. Your outrage is our outrage. We are all one family," executive director Farhana Khera said in a statement.
Yesterday, local Muslim imam and community leader Muhammad Mursi addressed the media as part of a law enforcement briefing about the shooting.
"No one could have predicted this," said Mursi, who serves as president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. "No one could have prepared for it. This could have happened anywhere. It's like... lightning."
On Facebook, he wrote: "I fully condemn the terrorist act in Orlando and the ideology that stands behind it. That is not ISLAM. Islam teaches peace not violence." He encouraged Muslims to donate blood and give to charity to help the victims' families.
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, also asked its members to donate blood for those injured in the attack. On Sunday, state officials told the public there was a desperate need for blood donations to help treat the 53 individuals wounded in the attack. By the end of the day, blood centers were full.
"We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured," Rasha Mubarak, Orlando regional coordinator of CAIR-Florida, said in a statement. "The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence."
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, a nationwide Muslim youth organization that specifically works with thousands of Muslim men and boys, also condemned the "senseless act of violence and prejudice."
"We the members of America's oldest and most active Muslim Youth association are appalled at the dreadful shooting in Orlando and mourn the loss of innocent life," AMYA president Dr. Bilal Rana said in a statement. "Our thoughts and sincere prayers are with the victims and their families. Such acts can never be justified in any shape and for any reason. We urge all Americans to hold fast together against such violence and hate that seeks to divide and antagonize all of us."
On Twitter, Muslims expressed words of solidarity while reminding others that the attacker does not represent their entire faith:
In Orlando, Muslim residents joined others lining up to donate blood for the shooting victims.
The death toll at Pulse nightclub has far surpassed that at Virginia Tech in 2007, which until now was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The Virginia Tech shooter took the lives of 32 people. The number of mass shootings in the U.S. has been on a slow climb since 1966, but has skyrocketed since 2008.
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