On the anniversary of the jihad massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Scott Simpson writes in the Advocate that the event brought Muslims and gays together, united as victims against the forces of hatred and bigotry that Donald Trump represents.
Think about the intellectual contortions it took to get there. A Muslim gunned down 49 people and wounded another 53 at a gay nightclub in the name of Allah and Islam, and a gay leader writes in a gay magazine that the massacre has united people who hold the same beliefs as the killer with people who share the orientation of his victims — against a man who has vowed to take steps to prevent such massacres from happening again.
Simpson bases these gymnastics on the idea that both Muslims and gays are routinely brutalized by thuggish Trump-supporting louts: “Across the country, American Muslims girded themselves for what has become a terrifying but familiar backlash against them. When anyone with a Muslim-sounding name makes headlines for a crime or an attack, the entire Muslim community is usually blamed. Vandals opened fire on a Texas mosque and Muslim men were beaten or shot in Orlando, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Minnesota….Anti-Muslim violence has surged under the rhetoric of the Trump campaign, making 2016 the most brutal year for American Muslims since the backlash following 9/11.”
In light of the high incidence of fake anti-Muslim hate crimes, these reports have to be greeted with skepticism, but to be sure, no attack on any innocent person, Muslim or non-Muslim, is ever justified. The question is whether this “lasting partnership” is likely to prevent Muslims in the U.S. from brutalizing gays in the future, and whether it is really prudent to act as if Orlando was a one-off. After all, there have been other incidents. On January 1, 2014, during the New Year’s celebrations at Seattle’s gay nightclub Neighbours, a Muslim named Musab Mohamed Masmari poured gasoline on a flight of stairs and then set it alight. The fact that the perpetrator was a Muslim was given only glancing notice in establishment media accounts, but the possibility that this was an early attempt at enforcement in the U.S. of the Sharia death sentence for gays could not be ruled out. Masmari was unsuccessful: despite his attempt to maximize the carnage by setting his fire on the stairs, no one was hurt.
Five months later, on June 1, 2014, a Muslim in Seattle named Ali Muhammad Brown went on a gay dating app and made a date to meet two gay men, Dwone Anderson-Young and Ahmed Said, at a Seattle gay nightclub. When the pair arrived, Brown gunned them down; then he fled to New Jersey and killed again. Finally apprehended, Brown explained that his murders were revenge for American military actions in Muslim countries: “My mission is my mission between me and my Lord. That’s it. My mission is vengeance, for the lives, millions of lives are lost every day. All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life.” This was Qur’anic justice: “And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution.” (5:45)
There have also been threats of more. In April 2017, two converts to Islam who lived in Illinois, Joseph D. Jones and Edward Schimenti, were arrested on federal terrorism charges. They had gone to Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois with an Islamic State flag and posed for photos there while holding it, to the alarm of passersby, and turned out to be trying to aid, and even join, the Islamic State. In the course of the investigation of the two men, it came to light that Schimenti had threatened a gay man with Sharia punishments, telling him that once Islamic law came to the United States, “We are putting you (homosexuals) on top of Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) and we drop you.”
And in April 2016, Dr. Farrokh Sekaleshfar spoke at the Husseini Islamic Center in Sanford, Florida, about a half-hour’s drive from the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Sekaleshfar spoke at the University of Michigan in 2013 and called for homosexuals to be put to death, but emphasized that the killing must be done in a compassionate fashion, “because the sinner is Allah’s creation. You could never hate Allah’s creation.” He claimed that the death penalty for homosexuality was an act of love, because it secured the victim a place in Paradise: “We see the physical killing as something brutal, and this is the point when human hatred toward the act has to be done out of love. You have to be happy for that person … we believe in an afterlife, we believe in an eternal life … and with this sentence, you will be forgiven and you won’t be accountable in the hereafter….It’s for his own betterment that he leaves. We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals, it’s the same. Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.” This was preached not in Medina, but in Michigan.
So: a “lasting partnership”? Maybe not so much.
“How Pulse Forged a Lasting Partnership Between Muslims and LGBTs,” by Scott Simpson, Advocate, June 12, 2017:
On June 11, 2016, my husband and I took to our annual tradition of riding our motorcycle in D.C.’s pride parade. We felt safe in our community, safe in our pride. The next night, 49 people were slaughtered as they danced at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
In the hours following the massacre, heartbreaking social media posts and text conversations of the victims’ final moments began to tell the stories of what happened in their own words. Most were young, most were Latino, and not one of them deserved such a brutal and premature death.
Eddie Jamaldroy Justice’s final text messages to his mother still bring me to tears: “Mommy I love you. In club they shooting.”
Ultimately, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded. But they were only the first victims of Omar Mateen’s rampage.
Across the country, American Muslims girded themselves for what has become a terrifying but familiar backlash against them. When anyone with a Muslim-sounding name makes headlines for a crime or an attack, the entire Muslim community is usually blamed. Vandals opened fire on a Texas mosque and Muslim men were beaten or shot in Orlando, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Minnesota.
My husband and I had felt so safe and so free the day before, revving our engines in front of tens of thousands of LGBTQ folks and our allies. That sense of safety was halted by this frightening reminder that there are those in the world who would prefer us dead.
That’s the same feeling that many American Muslims must feel every single day. Anti-Muslim violence has surged under the rhetoric of the Trump campaign, making 2016 the most brutal year for American Muslims since the backlash following 9/11….