Orlando's Muslim community rallies to donate blood for Pulse victims

Published June 12th, 2016 - 05:18 GMT
Authorities surrounding the scene of the shooting yesterday (Orlando Police / Twitter)
Authorities surrounding the scene of the shooting yesterday (Orlando Police / Twitter)

In the United States, gay men are prohibited from donating blood. 

So when the community was targeted in the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history today, it was a worry for the community and its allies. Fifty people have been killed in the massacre which took place in the early hours of this morning at Pulse, one of Orlando’s most popular gay clubs. Many more are injured, and hospitals are reporting blood shortages as they struggle to save lives. 

But Americans were quick to to turn their horror into action. Many in Florida rushed to donate blood for those wounded in the deadly attack, and in some states more than 600 people were queuing to help.

Among those appealing for assistance was the Council for Islamic American Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group in the U.S. In an announcement released hours after the news, it urged members to donate blood to help the victims of the attack.

CAIR joined other members of the Florida community for an interfaith response today, joining with other faith groups to condemn the shooting.

The gunman has been announced as Omar Mateen, an 29-year-old Afghan-American from Florida. His heritage immediately sparked fears of an Islamophobic backlash at a time when anti-Muslim bigotry in the US is already high. The attack has been classified as a terrorist incident. 

Mateen was reportedly known to U.S. security officials before the attack, but not under investigation at the time. His father hypothesized that his son's outrage at seeing two men kissing in Miami months before the attack may have motivated him, and condemned his son's actions.

Local Muslim groups joined CAIR in condemning the attacks and expressing support for the victims.

"We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured,” CAIR-Florida's Orlando Regional Coordinator, Rasha Mubarak, said in a statement. “The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence."

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