13 JUN 2016

The killings in Orlando yesterday

Orlando in Florida is a place many of us have visited with our families since it is the home of Disney World and many other theme parks. Sadly, it is now also associated with the worst mass shooting in recent American history with the death toll currently standing at 49 and with some critically injured and many others with serious, possibly life changing wounds.

The Executive of the Conservative Muslim Forum is shocked and horrified by this heinous crime. Our prayers go out to the families of the deceased and to the wounded. This is a time for unity such as London demonstrated after the 7 July 2005 bombings, and not a time for division and political point scoring.

The US authorities are still investigating the background of the killer, Omar Mateen, an American-born citizen of Afghan descent. However, he is reported as having called the authorities on 911 shortly before the shooting to declare his allegiance to ISIS. His former wife has reported that he was mentally unstable and regularly violent towards her. The FBI twice interviewed him regarding possible connections to terrorists but found no substantial connection. His father has reported that Omar Mateen was hostile to people who were gay, and the site of the shooting was apparently well known as a gay nightclub. Omar Mateen is reported to have been radicalised over the internet.

If these reports are accurate, this appears to be another example of how dangerous it can be when a young person with personality problems finds a purpose in their life by absorbing the murderous ideology of violent Islamist extremism propagated by organisations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.

All Britons need to do what they can to counter the spread of such ideologies in the UK. At the same time, we should be grateful that our Parliament has always made it impossible for people to purchase assault rifles of the type used in this massacre, and after the Dunblane killings decisively restricted the availability of handguns.

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