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Florida's Muslim community reacts to Orlando nightclub shooting

CAIR to ISIS: "you do not speak for us"
Posted at 6:06 PM, Jun 13, 2016
In the wake of what’s being called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, officials with the Council on American-Islamic Relations are speaking out to condemn the attack that took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.
 
Referencing the Sunday attack that left 50 dead and 53 others wounded, CAIR-Florida's Orlando Regional Coordinator Rasha Mubarak said the following in a statement:
 
"We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. 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 shooter, who was subsequently killed by police, has been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
 
The 29-year-old took hostages and opened fire inside Pulse at about 2 a.m. Sunday. While officials have not confirmed Mateen had ties to radical Islamic terrorism, they have "suggestions that individual has leanings towards that,” FBI agent Ronald Hopper said.
 
Shortly before the attack, Mateen called 911 and referenced the Islamic State, Hopper said.
 
Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has also condemned the shootings.
 
"As Muslims, as Americans, now is the time to speak out and make it clear we will not give in to hate," said Walid. "We will not give in to fear."
 
Speaking about Muslims who partake in violence, Walid added, "you do not speak for us, you do not represent us. You are an aberration, an outlaw of outlaws. They do not speak for our faith; they never belong to this beautiful faith they claim to."
 
Meanwhile, a Muslim-led campaign called “Muslims United for Victims of Pulse Shooting” has been launched in order to help raise funds for those affected by the tragedy.
 
“They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety," a CAIR representative wrote on the webpage. "Far too many Orlando families lost their loved ones in a deplorable act of violence. This is why a collective of American Muslim leaders and groups have united to raise funds for the victims' families."
 
There has been some criticism of the Muslim community for preaching homophobia and violence towards people in the LGBT community. A recent Pew Research Poll found that 55 percent of Muslim-Americans don't approve of homosexual activity in the culture. Experts say that as Muslims emigrate to the U.S. they sometimes have trouble assimilating, resulting in a culture clash.
 
"There are problems in the Islamic community where there are mosques that have Imams spewing forth a hateful message," said Ret. Army Col. Derek Harvey, the first director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of the U.S. Intelligence Agency's Central Command (CENTCOM).
 
Harvey, who was also director of the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at USF, says it's up to Muslims to push out radicalism from their own religion.
 
"I would hope that we could find a way for groups like CAIR, which is very deeply rooted in many communities, to find a way to isolate and change some of these mosques that are creating a hateful environment," Harvey told ABC Action News in an interview Sunday night.
 
Meanwhile, the Florida chapter of CAIR has been preparing for retribution for recent attacks carried out by Muslims, including the shootings in San Bernardino, California, and in Paris, France.
 
One way they've tried to prepare is by holding training seminars at local mosques, like one held in Bradenton in December 2015 about how to handle an active shooter situation.
 
The seminar was held by a member of the local Muslim community who is also a Manatee County Sheriff's Deputy.