Donald Trump has used the massacre at an Orlando nightclub on Sunday – the worst terrorist incident in the United States since September 11, 2001 – to attack President Obama and his likely rival in the November elections, Hillary Clinton.
The Republican Party’s presumptive nominee is accusing them of refusing to use the term “radical Islam.”
US citizen Omar Mir Seddique Mateen opened fire on an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida, where he used an assault rifle to kill 50 people and seriously wound at least 53 others.
The gunman was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” before he was shot and killed by police. Mateen reportedly also called 911 during the shooting to pledge allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, although it is unclear if the shooting was actually directed by the group or only inspired by it.
Trump has faced intense criticism from members of both parties for his calls to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the United States
The mass murder has fanned the flames in an already incendiary presidential race.
Trump condemned the attack as “horrible”, saying in a statement: “If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen, and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.”
The property magnate later called on Obama to “step down”, accusing him of being afraid to use the term radical Islam, and that Clinton should “get out of this race” if she won’t either.
Trump has faced intense criticism from members of both parties for his calls to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the United States.
In the wake of the Orlando attack, Trump again defended his proposals, saying on Twitter: “What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough.”
The White House issued a statement on Sunday morning saying that President Obama had been updated on the attack by his security and anti-terrorism advisers. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” said Obama.
Earlier Sunday, Hillary Clinton released a statement unequivocally calling the massacre an “act of terror.”
“For now, we can say for certain that we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad. That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home. It also means refusing to be intimidated and staying true to our values,” she said.
She also called it an “act of hate”, a term Obama also used, pointing out that the attacker targeted an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month. “The country needs to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals,” she said without referencing radical Islam.
Spain’s acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has condemned what he called a “disgusting attack”, adding: “We will continue to work together to defend freedom against barbarism and hate. Spain is with the United States.”
Sign up for our newsletter
EL PAÍS English Edition has launched a weekly newsletter. Sign up today to receive a selection of our best stories in your inbox every Saturday morning. For full details about how to subscribe, click here.
English version by Nick Lyne.