The shooting at a nightclub in Orlando at the weekend, which left 50 dead and 53 wounded, forcefully exposes the fact that we are being faced with a new form of terror, one in which individuals under the guidance or inspiration of radical Islamic messages decide to inflict as much pain as possible on defenseless people and groups.
The fact that the killing took place at a gay club also underscores that the shooter professed a hatred for a lifestyle based on tolerance for other people’s ideas and respect for individual decisions.
Rejecting foreigners will not solve a problem that the world’s democratic nations will have to deal with – if possible, in a coordinated manner
Omar Siddique Mateen, the perpetrator – who was already on the FBI’s radar screen – was a self-declared homophobe according to his own family. This hatred found a lethal projection in radical Islam’s message. As President Obama accurately said, it was “an act of terror and an act of hate.”
It is necessary to underscore that this killing bears some resemblance to the attack in San Bernardino, California, in December of last year, when a radicalized couple opened fire against diners at a banquet, killing 14 people and injuring 21. And the ease with which it is possible to legally acquire guns in the US – even military weapons – eliminates one of the biggest hurdles facing individuals who are bent on causing a tragedy.
Sunday’s was the worst ever shooting on US soil, and possibly the biggest terrorist attack in the country since 9/11. What’s more, it comes at an extremely delicate moment in domestic politics, with presidential elections right around the corner and one of the candidates, Donald Trump, reiterating the need to shut down the borders.
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But it bears reminding that the assassin was born in the US. Just like in Europe, rejecting foreigners will not solve a problem that the world’s democratic nations will have to deal with – if possible, in a coordinated manner. Inevitably, this tragedy will affect the campaign race, but at the same time it will evidence the need for the US to be led by someone trustworthy and prudent.
The massacre newly demonstrates that absolutely nobody is free from the threat of radicalism. What’s more, vulnerable groups – civilians at a dance club, a restaurant, the subway or an airport – are the targets of choice. Under no circumstance is it possible to let one’s guard down.
English version by Susana Urra.