I am heartbroken about the attack in Orlando, this attack on my community, as most of those killed were LGBTQ people of color. The flier for the event featured black and Latina trans women, and we have a national climate that targets these communities.
As a queer Muslim, I watched the story unfold in shock and grief. I’ve been dancing in those clubs. My friends have been in those clubs. It could have been any one of us. Those clubs are one of the few places we can feel free.
As I’ve been trying to process and grieve this tragedy, I see Donald Trump using it to renew his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants. Before the bodies had been taken out of the building, before all their loved ones had been contacted, this tragedy was already being used to justify hatred against Muslims.
I am horrified that this tragedy is being used to call for restrictions of the civil liberties of Muslims. While the Muslim community struggles with homophobia, so too does our country. In the first 10 weeks of 2016, over 200 pieces of anti-LGBT legislation were introduced in 34 states.
The day after House Bill 2 passed in North Carolina, I was arrested in front of the Governor’s Mansion with other queer and trans people fighting that attack on our community. As my queer Tennessean friend Thomas Walker said, the queer people of color trapped inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando hid in whatever bathroom they thought they were most likely to survive in, not whichever one matched their birth certificates.
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was an American. Donald Trump may say Mateen was foreign-born, but he was born in New York. He was a fan of the NYPD. He is a home-grown criminal. America as a whole needs to struggle with hatred and fear of LGBTQ people.
Mateen was a domestic abuser. Despite this, he had no criminal record. As we’ve seen in the Stanford rape case, toxic masculinity is an American problem. He was born and socialized in America. He internalized these lessons.
Mass shootings are an American problem, not an “over there” problem. There have been 136 instances of mass shooting in 2016 alone. More than 400,000 people have died from gun violence in the past 10 years. The overwhelming majority of shooting deaths in the United States are committed by non-Muslims. This is an American problem, when shooters like Mateen have access to assault-style rifles. No one should have access to buy these guns that are often used in mass shootings. We need common sense gun control in this country.
At Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, we believe in building an intersectional movement to fight all forms of oppression – homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, attacks on workers, attacks on immigrants and all other oppressions. Hatred will win only if we are divided by fear. We want to build a powerful movement based on love and liberation for all people. We call upon people from all backgrounds to join our network and help us build a more loving and just community.
Salma Mirza of Durham is a member of Muslims for Social Justice and Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia.