#PrayForOrlando: Faith groups unite in aftermath of Florida shooting
Following the largest mass shooting in US history earlier this week - in which 50 people were killed and many injured – world, faith and community leaders have come together to condemn the actions of the lone gunman.
29-year-old Omar Mateen, originally from New York, opened fire at an Orlando gay club in the early hours of Sunday 12th June. Police eventually shot him dead in the club’s bathroom.
Vigils and tributes were seen across the States and around the world for the victims and their families whilst faith leaders were quick to denounce the actions of Mateen.
The American Muslim community united against the attack, with several mosques hosting inclusive iftars with members of the LGBT community - who were invited to break fast with Muslims as part of their Ramadan celebrations.
In Toronto, around 200 people attended such an event, organised by the Toronto Unity Mosque, with around one third of those not identifying themselves as Muslim.
Event organizer and founder of the mosque, El-Farouk Khaki told ABC News, it was a simple concept which needed to be shared at this tragic time.
“The idea was to break bread together and to meet your neighbours,” Khaki said.
“The Peace Iftar is something we have been doing since 2003. I was inspired to create this event after being invited to a Passover seder by a Lesbian Jewish couple.”
He added: “No community is a monolith, there is no such thing as the LGBTI community or the Muslim community, we have communities within communities within communities.”
In New York, the annual ‘Iftar in the Park’ event saw 200 Muslims pray for the victims of the attack in a public display of solidarity.
Food was shared between members of different communities
In Orlando, Rasha Mubarak, regional coordinator for Orlando’s branch of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy organization, said: “We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured.
“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.”
Donald Trump: “[We need to] suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats.
“Although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on. It will be lifted, this ban, when and if we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen these people coming into our country. They’re pouring in and we don’t know what we’re doing.
“We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought-process as this savage killer.”
Hilary Clinton: “Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror.
“If the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked. And you shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show.
“And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.”
Barack Obama: “This is a devastating attack on all Americans. It is one that is particularly painful for the people of Orlando, but I think we all recognize that this could have happened anywhere in this country. And we feel enormous solidarity and grief on behalf of the families that have been affected.
"The fact that it took place at a club frequented by the LGBT community I think is also relevant. We’re still looking at all the motivations of the killer. But it’s a reminder that regardless of race, religion, faith or sexual orientation, we’re all Americans, and we need to be looking after each other and protecting each other at all times in the face of this kind of terrible act.”