Across the United States, Muslims swiftly denounced the June 12 attack on a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, which killed more than four dozen people and injured 53. "This is a hate crime plain and simple," said Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We condemn it in the strongest possible terms." The worst mass shooting in U.S. history also drew condemnation from Muslim nations and Islamist parties around the world. American Muslims also expressed solidarity with the LGBTQ community. 

candles and signs for orlando shooting support
Photo Courtesy of The New York Times/Sam Hodgson

The attacker, identified as Omar Mateen, reportedly called police during the attack and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Mateen was "one of the Caliphate's soldiers in America."

Religion is an important component in many conflict zones and can be a powerful tool for preventing violence. USIP has been a pioneer in religion and peacemaking, seeking new ways to combat violent extremism across all beliefs.

The following are excerpted remarks from prominent Muslim organizations, scholars, clerics and politicians on the attacks.

Muslim Organizations, Clerics and Scholars

Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

"As a Muslim, and as American, we have no tolerance for violence of any kind.

"This is a hate crime plain and simple. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms. It violates our principles as Americans and as Muslims. Let me be clear. We have no tolerance for extremism of any kind. We must not tolerate hateful rhetoric that incites violence against any minorities.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of our beliefs as Muslims and as Americans. Today, we must stand united. For many years, members of LBGTQI community have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Muslim community against any acts of hate crimes, islamophobia, marginalization and discrimination. Today we stand with them shoulder-to-shoulder. The liberation of the American Muslim community is profoundly linked to the liberation of other minorities—blacks, Latinos, Gay, Jewish, Trans, and every other community that has faced discrimination and oppression. We cannot fight injustice against some groups and not against others. Homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia are interconnected systems of oppression, and we cannot dismantle one without dismantling the other."

"We must stand up for the victims and their families. The criminals, terrorists, and extremists behind this kind of attacks mean only to divide us and turn us against one another. We cannot afford to let them succeed."

"As Americans, as Muslims, now is the time to speak out and make it clear that we will not give in to hate and we will not give in to fear."

"I have a word for ISIS and their supporters: How would you stand before God and answer to your crimes against thousands of innocent people? Muslims, Christians, and other minorities. You do not speak for us. You do not represent us. You are an aberration. You are an outlaw."

"They don’t speak for our faith. They don’t belong to this beautiful faith. They claim to, but 1.7 billion people are united in rejecting their extremism and their acts of senseless violence."

"To politicians who may try to exploit this tragedy, we ask them to respect the victims and their families. It’s not the time to score points. This is not the time to exploit fear. This is the time for unity and faith."
– June 12, 2016, at a press conference


Rasha Mubarak, Orlando Regional Coordinator for the Florida Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations 

"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."
– June 12, 2016, in a statement


Muhammad Musri, President and Imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida

"I’m here to stand as a faith leader to stand with our law enforcement … in this hour of horror that was brought on our city.

"I call on everybody in the community, anybody who has any information to please call the FBI, share what you know. It may help to answer many unanswered questions. I also call on my fellow faith leaders … to pray for the victims and their families in this hour, on this Sunday morning. It is a heartbreaking morning.

"I want to praise the courageous effort of our OPD [Orlando Police Department], who risked their lives, put their lives on the line. No one could have predicted this. It's like lightening. It can strike anywhere.

"They have done a marvelous job to save as many lives after the shooter began … we are glad that the situation is completely under control and there are no other shooters. This shooter is not known to be connected to any network.

"I want to caution many in the media from rushing to judgment and sensationalizing the story because we do not want the story to be shifted from the focus where it is. It’s a horrible tragedy. We are mourning. We are sad. We are heartbroken. It’s not really time for any sensational news and rushing to judgment. We should all wait until information and facts come out from investigators.

"Many times in the past this has been discussed as the worst nightmare. We don’t wish this on anybody else. We hope it is the last of the mass shootings our country has been going through. As a nation we need to look at mass shootings. We need to do something about mass shootings that are happening all the time.
– June 12, 2016, in a speech


Islamic Society of North America

"The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is outraged by the horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida. 

"We stand with the victims of this senseless act of violence and mourn with the families of the victims and pray for their ease and comfort during this time of difficulty.

"In a statement, ISNA President Azhar Azeez said: 

‘ISNA sends its condolences and prayers to the families of the victims. We urge the community to stand united against all acts of violence.’

"We encourage our members to donate to help with the immediate, short-term needs of the grieving families and our members in Florida to visit a blood center today to donate blood to help the victims of the shooting."
– June 12, 2016, in a statement


Salam al Marayati, Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

"Today, our hearts are heavy with the horrific news of a hateful homophobic mass shooting targeting a gay club in Florida, which has taken the lives of 50 people and injured at least 53 others. We join with the LGBTQ community and all Americans in expressing our profound outrage, grief and condemnation of this sickening act of senseless violence that violates all human decency. Hate, bigotry and violence are our common enemy.

"We send our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased and injured, and stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ community as we deal with the aftermath of the despicable crime. We are in touch with federal and local law enforcement about the investigation surrounding this tragedy.

"We urge Muslim Floridians to donate blood to aid the injured and to extend their giving and prayers for all those affected by this mass shooting.

"MPAC and many other American Muslim groups around the country have strong ties with LGBTQ communities and groups, and have worked together to oppose hate, intolerance and bullying, which impacts both of our communities.

"As we all grapple with this senseless tragedy and we learn more about the motives and facts of the case, we will be reaching out to LGBTQ communities with condolences and solidarity. As President Obama said at his press conference this afternoon, let us stand together in our grief and outrage, and our solidarity with the victims and their families.

"As Muslims, we believe in religious freedom, civil rights and human rights. We reject violence, hatred and discrimination toward anyone on the basis of race, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation or national origin. We support civil rights for all people. May God guide us all as we strive in His cause."
– June 12, 2016, in a statement


Farhana Khera, Executive Director of Muslim Advocates

"We are horrified and saddened by the mass shooting that took place at an Orlando nightclub this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims of this despicable act of violence. Our hearts are also with the LGBTQ community in Florida and throughout the United States. The LGBTQ community has stood side by side with the American Muslim community during challenging and difficult times.  We stand together against hatred, violence and demonization of entire communities. Today, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.  Your grief is our grief.  Your outrage is our outrage.  We are all one family."
– June 12, 2016, in a statement


Khaled Latif, Executive Director of New York University’s Islamic Center

"Thinking of my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community this morning. I can only imagine how the loved ones of those killed in last night’s horrific actions in Orlando are feeling. The only way to make sense of such senseless acts is through living with hope, compassion and love. My thoughts and prayers are with you all."
– June 12, 2016, on Facebook


Abdul Nasir Jangda, Founder and Director of the Qalam Institute

Senseless, barbaric violence. Total disregard for humanity.

I pray for justice, unity and the families who lost loves ones. #OrlandoShooting

Much will be made about the religion of the shooter. I do not know of a sound religious tradition that allows for indiscriminate killing.
– June 12, 2016, on Twitter


Najeeba Syeed, Professor in the Claremont School of Theology in California

Horrific news to wake to. Heartbroken for families of Orlando shooting...

Thinking also of my queer Muslim students and their depth of pain and complexity of reality in this moment.
– June 12, 2016, on Twitter


Suhaib Webb, Muslim Scholar and Founder of Center DC

Thoughts and prayers with the victims, their families, the LGBTQ community, law enforcement and the city of Orlando.
Today's murders remind us of hatred's dangerous power and the great work we have to do in building the capacity to temper it.
– June 12, 2016, on Twitter


American Muslim Politicians

There are currently two Muslims serving in the U.S. Congress, both of whom issued statements condemning the attacks.

Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat

Awful news coming out of Orlando. I'm praying for the victims, their families and everyone in the LGBT community.
– June 12, 2016, on Twitter

"The horrific shooting in Orlando goes against every sense of humanity. As details continue to be made available, we must keep the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

"No religion justifies such a senseless act of terror. All decent people must condemn this hateful act that claimed the lives of 50 people and injured 53 more. Sadly, Orlando has now joined Aurora, Charleston, Newtown, Oak Ridge and many other communities rocked by gun violence. This is yet another reminder that Congress must pass meaningful, common-sense gun reforms that include a ban on assault weapons, which have no place in civilian hands. Members of Congress must stand up to the NRA.

"I am grieving with the LGBT community. The community has been a target for hate for decades, but has seen meaningful advances in the past few years. That progress could not be more evident than seeing millions of Americans, gay and straight alike, celebrate LGBT Pride this weekend. This tragedy will not suppress the love and compassion that the LGBT community is centered on. Going forward, we must continue to stand against all hate crimes. No one deserves to be harmed because of their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation."
– June 12, 2016, on Facebook


Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat

Saddened & angered to hear of the horrific attack in #Orlando. My heart goes out to the victims, their loved one & their entire community.
– June 12, 2016, on Twitter

"I join Americans and the world in mourning the victims of the Orlando shooting and praying for their families. This is a heartless and brutal attack on the LGBT community and everyone who values freedom and equality.
"We don't know all the details but it is clear that this is an act of hate. While we struggle to come to terms with this tragedy, we must not and will not succumb to fear.

"This is the most lethal terrorist attack in America since 9-11 and we must redouble our efforts to fight terrorism in all forms. As a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I will be working closely with our intelligence officials to ensure they have the support they need to pursue terrorist threats everywhere."
 – June 13, 2016, in a statement


Muslim Countries and Islamist Parties

Tunisia’s Ennahda Party leader Rached Ghannouchi

#Ennahda strongly condemns the #Orlando terrorist attack. Our condolences to the victims' families and to the American people.
– June 13, 2016, on Twitter

"The American city of Orlando, Florida, witnessed yesterday morning, on June 12, 2016, a terrorist assault inside a nightclub that resulted in the death or injury of more than 100 people.

"This horrible crime committed on Sunday is the worst mass shooting in the United States, and the Ennahda movement:

"Strongly condemns the terrorist assault and offers condolences to the victims and our friends the American people.

"Emphasizes that the incident is contrary to the values of Islam and violates its teachings of non-violence, and that the killer does not represent Muslims.

"Calls to not exploit the terrorist incident to sow hatred and divisions between people and religions, and confirms that terrorism is a global danger that demands an international strategy to resist."
– June 12, 2016, in a statement

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari

"Based on its principled policy of condemning terrorism and its firm resolve for serious and all-out confrontation of this discouraging phenomenon, the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns the recent terrorist attack in the U.S. city of Orlando."
– June 13, 2016, according to news reports.


Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani

Severely condemn the heinous & unforgivable crime in Orlando. It was a coward act of terror. Praying for all those affected by this tragedy.
– June 12, 2016, on Twitter

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry

Egypt condemns the Orlando attack "in the strongest possible terms."

"Egypt stands next to the American people in these difficult times, offering sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery."

Egypt calls for a "firm, comprehensive approach to confronting terrorism, which knows no borders or religion, and is incompatible with all humanitarian principles and values."
– June 12, 2016, according to news reports


Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak

"Islam abhors killing of innocent people."
– June 12, 2016, according to news reports


Palestinian Territories Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah

The attacks are "senseless act of terror and hate" and "Palestinians stand with the American people in this difficult time."
– June 12, 2016, according to news reports

A version of this article was published first on The Islamists web site of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Related Publications

The Religious Landscape in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

The Religious Landscape in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Thursday, August 29, 2019

By: Melyn McKay

This Peaceworks report maps the religious landscape of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, focusing in particular on the current and potential influence of religion in peace and reconciliation efforts. Part of a broader USIP initiative to map the religious landscape in conflict-affected environments, it presents key findings and offers recommendations to enable policymakers and peacebuilding practitioners to better navigate and engage within Rakhine’s religious landscape.

Type: Peaceworks


Religious Engagement in Peacebuilding

Religious Engagement in Peacebuilding

Friday, July 12, 2019

With 84 percent of people worldwide identifying with a faith tradition, religion influences local, national, and international decision-making. Across the globe, violent extremism often is couched in religious terms, and religious discrimination is on the rise. At the same time, people of faith and religious organizations frequently are on the frontlines of peace efforts, assisting communities affected by violence. Although religious considerations have been marginal to peace efforts historically, governments and peacebuilding organizations increasingly recognize the importance of religion.

Type: Factsheet


The Religious Landscape in South Sudan: Challenges and Opportunities for Engagement

The Religious Landscape in South Sudan: Challenges and Opportunities for Engagement

Thursday, June 20, 2019

By: Jacqueline Wilson

Since the beginning of South Sudan's civil war in 2013, the country's religious actors have sought to play an active role in turning the tide from war and violence to peace and reconciliation. Drawing on interviews, focus groups, and consultations, this report maps the religious landscape of South Sudan and showcases the legitimate and influential religious actors and institutions, highlights challenges impeding their peace work, and provides recommendations for policymakers and practitioners to better engage with religious actors for peace.

Type: Peaceworks


Pope Francis in the Cradle of Islam: What Might It Bring?

Pope Francis in the Cradle of Islam: What Might It Bring?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

By: Palwasha L. Kakar; Melissa Nozell

Pope Francis’ recent sojourn in the Arabian Peninsula was a powerful symbolic advance for interfaith dialogue: the first visit by a Roman Catholic pontiff to the original homeland of the Islamic faith. Francis joined eminent Muslim, Jewish and other Christian clerics in an appeal for the communal coexistence so desperately needed by a world suffering violence and persecution across humanity’s religious divides. The visit’s moving imagery included Christians and Muslims together attending the first papal mass on the peninsula. Yet this powerful symbolism will have real impact only if it inspires us all to take concrete steps—notably by governments, educational institutions and faith-based organizations.

Type: Analysis and Commentary


View All Publications