The United States saw the worst shooting incident in its history on Sunday, with 49 people killed at a gay nightclub after a gunman opened fire on them in Orlando in Florida. The perpetrator is a US citizen of Afghan origin. US President Barack Obama said the incident is considered the worst in the history of the United States, but as expected, terrorists, criminals and militants around the world, led by IS, are praising the crime and the killing of innocents.
US presidential candidate Donald Trump found the situation an excellent opportunity to launch an attack against Obama and garner more sympathy for himself. He is known for his extreme stance towards foreigners, especially Arabs and Muslims, so his reaction was no surprise. It is natural that there will be fears that the incident may affect the appetite of American Muslims to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Such crimes boost Trump’s chances to win as a strongman who can stop all of this. I do not think so, but there are those who believe in such claims.
Every day terrorist attacks occur in different parts of the Middle East, but despite the condemnations and rejection of terrorism, it does not appear that there is real work to find out how to stop this carnage and find the roots of the problem. The war on terror has become an elastic term that being used by states without a specific framework, and with the spread of jihadist movements and increased terrorism risks, there is a need to adopt an integrated strategy.
There is a growing international consensus that counter-terrorism measures are not adequate to prevent the spread of violent extremism. After all, the recent crimes in the US were at the hands of US citizens with conservative ideas. I understand the feelings of the victims’ families and their friends. It is a sad tragedy and loss, but for us Muslims, it damaged and tarnished our reputation in front of the world more than ever, and I completely understand the concerns of Muslim Americans.
In the Arab world, most states have amended terrorism laws to include movements and political groups, and some countries have even released lists of terrorist groups that include the Muslim Brotherhood. No one can deny that they are secure from the threat of terrorism and that it is no longer just a matter of precautionary procedures, especially since the Orlando crime was committed by a US citizen of Muslim background. The war on terrorism must extend to become a confrontation with extremist ideologies which can be transmitted through the media.
While I was preparing this article, I saw comments on Arab social media and was amazed at the level of ignorance at which this part of the world is falling to. There is obviously a lot of ignorance and backwardness in the Arab world, especially over the discussions and comments made about what the Orlando criminal did. I feel sorry for the level of ignorance seen here. No one seems concerned to discuss how we can eliminate such ideas on social media and the spread of extremist ideas among young people.
The crises of the Middle East and efforts to combat terrorism must be clearly surveyed and debated and consensus must be reached by UN agencies and leaders of all countries. The Orlando massacre will leave a dark and shameful mark in our memories.
By Muna Al-Fuzai