The Current

Orlando shooting: Grieving LGBTQ Muslims fear backlash

In the aftermath of the massacre at the Pulse gay bar in Orlando, Fla., Muslims in the LGBTQ community find themselves facing both homophobia and Islamophobia. We hear from three people navigating the emotion and backlash.
A woman holds a banner during a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., in Sydney, Australia. (Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)

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The aftermath of the massacre at a gay club in Orlando, Fla., by a Muslim man has some Muslims in the LGBTQ community fearing targeted homophobia and Islamophobia.

"I've been feeling this unbearable grief and rage," Toronto community activist Lali Mohamed told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti. 

"But at the same time, I've started really early on preparing myself for the onslaught of violent Islamophobia that already is manifesting itself - both in the Republican party but also in the LGBTQ community in Toronto."

One day after the attack, presumptive U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to ban Muslim immigrants from America.

"If we don't get tough, and we don't get smart and fast we're not going to have a country anymore," Trump said. "The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here."

Mohamed says dealing with this type of backlash is routine. "I know very intimately that every single day I need to navigate and negotiate a world that is premised on the othering of Muslims, that is premised on the othering of black people, that is premised on the othering of queer and trans folk."

Lawyer May El-Abdallah says that when she heard the shooter identified as Muslim, she had to include the fear of backlash to the grief she was feeling over the massacre.

"You don't have a place to mourn because the backlash has already started and you are immediately on the defensive," El-Abdallah told host Anna Maria Tremonti.

Mehammed Mack, an associate professor at Massachusetts' Smith College, says Trump's comments "undermine our sense of national belonging."

"Statements like the one Mr. Trump came out with just underscore this really false idea that Muslim Americans have never been part of the fabric of the United States."

Listen to the full conversation with host Anna Maria Tremonti at the top of this post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Idella Sturino and Shannon Higgins.