Fort Fierce, Florida, 12 Ramadan 1437/18 June 2016 (MINA) – While investigators look for a motive in the Pulse nightclub shooting, others are looking for someone to blame. The backlash from the Orlando shooting is putting some in the Muslim community on edge, and Omar Mateen’s mosque is now facing threats.
Mateen is reported to have prayed in a small mosque nestled in the heart of historic Fort Pierce, a sleepy town two hours south of Orlando, just a day before his rampage at the Pulse nightclub, cctv-ameica.com was quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Imam Syed Shafeeq Rahman led Friday prayers at the mosque amid ongoing backlash following the Orlando shooting.
“There’ve been people driving by the mosque hurling insults,” Omar Salah, attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said. “And quite frankly the community is scared.”
Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, thought to be the first American suicide bomber in Syria, also attended the same mosque.
“We understand everything that happens,” Frederick Cole, member of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, said. “It’s obviously a tragedy. But it shouldn’t reflect on the entire community here because you have a lot of good people.”
The Orlando shooter attended this mosque for several years. But members of the Muslim community here have condemned the shooting rampage and insist they were unaware that Mateen harbored a radical ideology.
Imam Muhammed Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said responding to signs of radicalization is a challenge facing other Muslim leaders in the United States.
“I try to help them process this anger, this frustration, with that’s happening in the world,” Musri said.
Musri dismisses claims Islam itself is to blame for the Orlando attack, instead pointing to an emerging picture of Mateen as troubled and unstable.
“If it is a person with a Muslim name we call it terrorism, we highlight it, we talk about it,” Musri said. “If it is a person who is Christian, you know, who is white, we say he’s just mentally ill.”
Musri admited Islamic scripture does not approve of homosexuality, but said that does not excuse Mateen’s actions.
Meanwhile, local Muslim leaders said they are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue to investigate what motivated the Orlando shooter. (T/R07/R01)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)