The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed shock and horror at the unconscionable attack at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando apparently targeting the LGBTQ community, an attack that is now confirmed as the largest mass shooting in American history and one apparently inspired by an Islamic extremist ideology.
The suspected shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen of Fort Pierce, Florida, reportedly pledged allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS, and authorities say he mentioned the Boston Marathon attacks in a 911 call to police as he carried out the shootings, which killed at least 50 people.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:
Although details are still emerging, an attack on a prominent Orlando gay club at the start of Pride Month on a night that celebrated the Latino community has all the markers of both an unconscionable hate crime and an act of terrorism on a scale we have not before witnessed in America.
This heinous attack on a nightclub serving the LGBTQ community is yet another reminder of the serious threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, which has inspired attacks against Jews in Belgium, journalists in France, civilians in San Bernardino and now LGBTQ men and women in America.
It also is yet another barbaric act of terrorism in a week that has seen brutal bombings across Iraq, an attack on a cafe in Tel Aviv, and now this tragedy. It reminds us that terrorism is a danger to all. We must continue to fight this threat against democracy and pluralism with all of the tools available and by exposing those who perpetrate hateful ideologies of violence and extremism.
We must remember that Americans should not blame all Muslims for the actions of one individual. Whether citizens like the individual suspected of committing this act or war-torn refugees seeking safety, we must remember that we do not define people by their faith. We are deeply concerned that this attack could lead to a backlash against American Muslims. We urge all Americans to not fight hatred with hatred, but rather to come together around our common values of decency and respect.
At this time of sadness and tragedy, we express our full solidarity with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. During this time of year when we celebrate Pride, they should know that they are not alone. As we mourn the victims and extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those lost, we will redouble our resolve to fight against the forces of hatred and extremism that led to this barbaric act of hatred.
ADL’s Florida Regional Office is in contact with the lead investigating agencies and the local LGBTQ community of South Florida to offer support and other resources. Despite the casualties, we applaud the work of law enforcement and salute these officers whose courage and professionalism appears to have saved many lives.