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Orlando nightclub shooting: Fire at gunman’s mosque

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FIRE: The scene of devastation which greeted fire fighters on 12th September at a mosque in Florida (Pic Cred: Twitter)

FIRE: The scene of devastation which greeted fire fighters on 12th September at a mosque in Florida (Pic Cred: Twitter)

Police are investigating a fire at the mosque that was attended by the Orlando nightclub gunman who killed 49 people.

Fire officials said that surveillance cameras show a suspect approaching the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce moments before the blaze on Monday 12th September.

The fire may have been timed to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and the anniversary of New York’s terrorist attack - 9/11.

Omar Mateen committed the worst mass shooting in modern American history in June when he opened fire in Pulse nightclub.

He was shot down and killed by police after taking hostages and declaring his allegiance to the Daesh group.

The mosque blaze was so severe that it burned a huge hole - 10ft by 10ft - in the roof of the mosque's main room.

Law enforcement officers received reports of flames rising from the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, in Orlando, just after midnight.

A spokesman for the sheriff's office, Major David Thompson, told reporters that no one was hurt.

He said: “This is a horrible tragedy. Not only for the Islamic Center, but for our community.”

He continued: “Surveillance footage showed a white or possibly Hispanic man riding up on a motorcycle.

“The suspect got off the bike and approached the mosque carrying a bottle of liquid and papers, moments before the blaze erupted.

"Immediately after the individual approached, a flash occurred and the individual fled the area.”

Major David Thompson added that investigators have not yet identified the man, who shook his hand while leaving the area of the flames, indicating that he might have been burned himself.

Wilfredo Ruiz, spokesman for the center and communications director for the Council on American Islamic Relations in Florida, said they must wait until law enforcement officials determine it no longer is a crime scene to inspect the damage.

Mr Ruiz said the motive for the fire is ‘obviously hate’.

He added: “The reasons that fuel that hate and keep fueling that hate could be plenty of reasons.”

#PrayForOrlando: Faith groups unite in aftermath of Florida shooting

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KILLER: Omar Mateen opened fire at the Orlando nightclub

KILLER: Omar Mateen opened fire at the Orlando nightclub

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.

TRAGIC: 50 people were killed and 53 wounded in the attack at Pulse night club

TRAGIC: 50 people were killed and 53 wounded in the attack at Pulse night club

“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.”

US reactions:

donald trump (326x450)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.”

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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.”

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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.”