Muslim leaders condemn Orlando nightclub shooting

Published: Jun. 12, 2016 at 5:04 PM CDT
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National Muslim leaders held a Sunday afternoon news conference in Washington, D.C. to condemn the early morning mass shooting at an Orlando, Fla. nightclub and to offer condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed or injured.

At least 50 people were killed and 53 wounded in the shooting reported about 4 a.m. (Central Time) at Pulse, a gay club in the city.

The shooter, identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Mateen was 29 years old and born in New York. The FBI says he referred to the Islamic State in a 911 call before the slayings.

Among the religious leaders who spoke at Sunday's news conference was Nihad Awad, National Executive Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Awad said the shooting is a hate crime, "pure and simple."

"We condemn it in the strongest possible terms. It violates our principles as Americans and as Muslims," he said.

Awad said CAIR has no tolerance for extremism of any kind. He said CAIR stands with the LGBTQ community against hate crimes and discrimination and will continue to do so.

"Today, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder," Awad said.

He said ISIS is an aberration to and does not speak for the Muslim community.

"They do not belong to this beautiful faith," Awad said. "They claim to, but the 1.7 billion people are united in rejecting their extremism, their interpretation , their acts and their senseless violence."

The Islamic Society of Wichita also condemned the attack. The group issued the following statement Sunday:

“Along with our fellow Americans, the Islamic Society of Wichita condemns the hateful act of violence in Orlando, Florida. In this holy month of Ramadan, we will be offering special prayers for the victims and their families. As people of faith, we stand unified against acts of terrorism and violence and will continue our work to defend all people against hatred and brutality. We urge local Muslims to consider donating to the Islamic Center of North America (ICNA) Orlando Shooting Victims Fund and to donate blood for the victims of this heinous act.”