Just over six months after a Muslim couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino County, USA – killings in whose aftermath US Presidential candidate Donald Trump would call for an immediate ban on all Muslims entering the USA – we have witnessed yet another massacre committed by a US Muslim.
It is too early at this stage to say whether the killer Omar Mateen’s possible mental health issues played a role in the massacre. There will also no doubt be the usual questioning of the ridiculous US gun laws which appear to make lethal weapons readily available to aspiring murderers.
What we can perhaps most safely say at the moment is that the killings which took place in the Orlando gay club were motivated by a virulent form of homophobia.
The main monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all have a lamentable record when it comes to the persecution of gays.
A few years back, when I was in the MCB and had written an article for the Guardian defending gay rights, I recall shortly afterwards that the MCB received an email from a leading figure in a Salafi mosque in Luton criticising me in pretty severe terms for my “deviant views”. I just shrugged it off at the time as being the usual narrow-minded nonsense from Salafi nutjobs, but perhaps, in retrospect, I should have called them out openly at the time and challenged their views.
It is sad to see so many Muslims who have first hand experience of anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination, being too ready to indulge in anti-gay bigotry. As a society, we in the UK have come a commendably long way in just the past thirty years when it comes to recognising anti-gay attitudes and challenging them. It could be that more needs to be done in our schools to teach about the benefits and value of living in a free, secular and liberal society that prohibits discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality.
Just over three years ago, in May 2013, two UK Muslims killed Fusilier Lee Rigby openly in the streets and boasted that they “wanted to start a war in London.” Fortunately, they failed to achieve that vile aim. It could be that the San Bernardino killers and the Orlando killer, Omar Mateen, also wanted to provoke an anti-Muslim backlash in the USA to further civil disharmony. If so, with the frightening spectre of Donald Trump looming large in the background, one can only hope that they too fail to achieve their dishonourable goals.