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Reactions to the Orlando nightclub shooting

Commemoration of the Pulse nightclub at the 2016 Chicago Pride Parade
Vigil held in Minneapolis for victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting

The reactions to the Orlando nightclub shooting include the responses by political and religious leaders, media and the general public, both within the United States where the 2016 Orlando shooting took place, other nations and international organizations.

Public reactions to the shooting at Pulse LGBT nightclub on June 12, by Omar Mateen, included the domestic U.S. debate about constitutional rights and gun control; messages of condolences to the victims, their families, and friends; organized vigils, prayers and moments of silence or thoughts; and support for the LGBT community both in the U.S. and the rest of the world.


Non-governmental actionsEdit

Practical responsesEdit

On the day of the shooting, the Florida chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations and a physician at the Orlando Regional Medical Center made a call for blood donations.[1]

Facebook activated its "Safety Check" feature in Orlando, its first use in the U.S., allowing users to mark themselves as "safe" to notify family and friends.[2][3]

Equality Florida, the state's largest LGBT rights group, started a fundraising page to aid the victims and their families, raising $767,000 in the first nine hours.[4][5][6] As of June 16, it raised more than $5.09 million, a record for GoFundMe.[7][8][9] Orlando's mayor Buddy Dyer created another campaign, OneOrlando, supported by $1 million donations from The Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal, which operate the nearby Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.[10][11][12]

On June 20, Broadway performers and composers recorded a cover of the 1965 hit single, "What the World Needs Now is Love" in tribute to the victims and survivors of the shootings. Proceeds from the single's iTunes sales benefit the LGBT Center of Central Florida. The performance included Broadway performers Idina Menzel, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jessie Mueller, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Joel Grey, Billy Porter, and Kelli O'Hara as well as songwriters Sara Bareilles, Carole King, Seth Rudetsky and Gloria Estefan.[13] On July 24 and 25, two groups of stars from the Broadway theatre, including the cast of the Tony Award-winning "Fun Home", each performed a night in the Walt Disney Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center to honor and raise money for the Pulse victims. Besides the victims and their families, the proceeds were also donated to Equality Florida, Help Center of Central Florida, GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, Zebra Coalition, and the Hope.[14][15]

Australian musician Sia released The Greatest on 5 September 2016. Both the song and the music video serve as a tribute to the tragedy.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge wrote a song, "Pulse (Love Will Always Win)", and pledged proceeds to an LGBT charity in honor of the Orlando victims.[16]

Other charity songs released for the cause include "Change" by Christina Aguilera, "Hands" by various artists including Selena Gomez and Britney Spears, Broadway For Orlando, and a Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda duet.[17]

Popular reactionsEdit

#JeSuisOrlando[18][19] (an allusion to Je Suis Charlie), #PrayForOrlando[20] and #LoveIsLove[21] were some of the hashtags used
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson visits Pulse and the makeshift memorial outside of it on the three-month anniversary of the shooting

Many people on social media and elsewhere expressed their shock at the events and extended their condolences to those affected, including presidential candidates, members of Congress and other U.S. political figures, foreign leaders and various celebrities.[22][23][24]

On June 13, singer Richard Marx posted an image to his Facebook page that read "We should demand more of our elected officials rather than their fucking thoughts and prayers".[25] He wrote on Twitter: "every one of the 60 members of the Senate who voted against the Assault Weapons Ban in 2013 and defeated it has blood on their hands".[26]

Commentators Steven Crowder,[27] Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard,[28] and Sebastian Gorka of Marine Corps University,[29] assigned responsibility for the attack to political correctness[27][28][29] and a tendency for liberals, especially politicians, to advocate increased gun control while shielding Islam and Muslims from criticism for political gain.[27][28]

Yeni Akit, a Turkish newspaper close to the current Turkish government, published a headline calling the victims "deviant" or "perverted",[30] which foreign media outlets criticized.[31]

Across the world, a number of individuals sympathized with the shooter.[32][33][34][35][36] The Westboro Baptist Church organized a protest at the funeral of one of the victims, which was drowned out by a counter-protest.[37][38]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims.[39] The Washington Post reported that "The sympathetic tweets promoted a quick backlash from those who want India's Parliament to repeal a Colonial-era law that criminalizes homosexual acts".[40]

American Muslims condemned the attacks.[41] The Council on American–Islamic Relations called the attacks "monstrous" and urged Muslims to donate blood.[1][42] The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community strongly condemned the attacks and held prayer vigils in mosques across the country.[43] Its national representative, Salaam Bhatti, at the Orlando Mosque stated "through our prayers, and through donating our blood, we are hoping this will make a difference, in lives being saved after lives have been lost."[44]

The Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the shooting; in the video, 49 celebrities told the stories of the people killed there.[45][46]

Other celebrity reactions included British pop singer Adele hoisting an LGBT flag in support of condemnation of the incident,[47] American singer Katy Perry tweeting "I just can't believe this is the world we live in today"[48] and singer Taylor Swift posting a picture of a letter on Instagram containing the names of all those killed. On July 6, 2016, a charity single featuring 27 artists titled "Hands" was released a tribute to the victims.[49] Singers Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas performed "Rise Up" along with Andra Day at Lovato and Jonas's Orlando concert date of the Future Now Tour.[50]

"The Heroes of Pulse" were named as The Advocate's People of the Year for 2016.[51]

MNDR and Scissor Sisters conceived the song "Swerlk" (2017) in honor of the one-year anniversary of the shooting. All sales of the single were donated to the Contigo Fund, a non-profit organization for LGBTQ individuals.[52]

Artist communityEdit

Many within the LGBT community believe that the mainstream media fails to accurately portray the experience of the victims of the Pulse shooting and the role bars and clubs play as not only a place for socializing but a safe space. LGBT artist, activists, and writers sought to fulfill this void using a variety of means.

  • LGBT writers Lee Lynch and S. Renee Bess asked LGBT along with Flashpoint Productions published The anthology: Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars. The anthology brings LGBT voices from all walks of life and help readers understand the relationships these venues play within their community.[53][54]
  • Interns of BlueWhite Television produced a documentary: "National Pulse Nightclub Documentary" depicting the tragedy through the lens of survivors and friends of victims.[55]
  • Artist Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz held a calavera-making workshop in Orlando that culminated in a Dia de los Muertos ofrenda exhibited in the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.[56][57]
  • Mural artist Michael Pilato collaborated with hundreds of others artists to create individual portraits of each of the 49 victims.[55]
  • Guatemalan-American poet Maya Chinchilla wrote the poem Church at Night in response to the shooting.[58]
  • Viceland's LGBT travel documentary Gaycation has a special on the Pulse Shooting: Gaycation Presents: Orlando where LGBT activists Peg and Daniel travel to Orlando to interview a survivor and understand the role the Pulse night club served within the community.[59]
  • Several episodes of the MTV documentary series True Life will follow survivors of the Pulse Shooting as they try and come to terms with the events and rebuild their lives.[60]

American politicians and candidatesEdit

Obama's June 12 statement on the shooting

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, renewed his proposal for a temporary Muslim immigration ban and wrote on Twitter, "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"[61] His response was condemned by Republicans and Democrats and some celebrities as inappropriate.[61] Trump was also heavily criticized by President Barack Obama, calling Trump's words "dangerous".[62] On June 15, 2016, Donald Trump had his highest disapproval rating since entering the presidential race in June 2015 with 70% of Americans viewing him negatively.

Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, accused President Obama of being "directly responsible" for the Orlando nightclub shooting "because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama's failures."[63][64]

In protest at the failure of the house to implement gun laws, a number of Democrats walked out during a June 13 moment of silence in the United States House of Representatives ordered by Speaker Paul Ryan. When the moment ended, Democratic lawmakers shouted at Ryan, "where's the bill?"[65] On June 15, 2016, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and other Democrats filibustered for 14 hours and 50 minutes, promising to hold the Senate floor for action on gun control legislation. Murphy secured a promise from the Senate floor to hold votes "on a measure to assure that those on the terrorist watch list do not get guns and an amendment ... to expand background checks to gun shows and to internet sales".[66][67]

Domestic responsesEdit

San Francisco City Hall lit in rainbow in honour to the victims of the shooting

The White House released a statement sending its condolences to the victims. President Barack Obama directed the federal government to provide any assistance necessary to "pursue the investigation and support the community".[68] In a speech, the President described the attack as an "act of hate" and "act of terror".[69][70][71] The President also ordered U.S. flags flown at half-mast until sunset on June, 16.[72] On June 13, Speaker Paul Ryan ordered a moment of silence in the United States House of Representatives to honor the victims of the shooting.[65]

International responseEdit

International bodiesEdit


Youth commemorate victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in front of the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan on June 14, 2016
Flowers, candles, and messages in front of the United States Embassy in Berlin
People commemorate victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in front of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland on June 13, 2016
Vigil in Wellington, New Zealand, June 13, 2016
Vigil in Toronto
  •   Afghanistan: President Ashraf Ghani condemned the shooting and said "nothing can justify killing of civilians."[80]
  •   Algeria: "It is with astonishment that I learned of the horrible massacre that left dozens dead and injured in the city of Orlando," wrote President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to Obama.[85]
  •   Andorra: Prime Minister Antoni Marti stated his solidarity with and sympathy to the people of America, especially to the victims and their families.[86]
  •   Argentina: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement condemning the attack and offered condolences to the people and government of the United States, as well as to the families of the victims.[87]
  •   Armenia: President Serzh Sargsyan expressed his condolences to U.S. President Barack Obama.[88]
  •   Australia: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned the "murderous hatred of gay people" and called the shootings "a vile attack on attack on all of us."[89] Vigils were held all over Australia in memorial.
  •   Azerbaijan: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement condemning the attack and expressing condolences to the victims' families.[90] Members of the local LGBT community gathered in front of the US embassy to protest against homophobia.[91]
  •   Bahrain: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain condemned the attacks.[92]
  •   Belgium: Prime Minister Charles Michel sent condolences via Twitter expressing his sadness and joining victims' families in grief.[93]
  •   Brazil: The suspended President Dilma Rousseff and the interim president, Michel Temer expressed solidarity with the families of the victims. Rousseff said "we are living in terrible moment, prejudice times and intolerance that reap human lives. We will together fight this barbarism. My feelings to the families of victims, to President @BarackObama and the American people".[94] Temer expressed "Brazilian solidarity with the families victims of this attack".[94]
  •   Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his "condolences and prayers to the families and friends of those lost" and wished a "full recovery to all those injured." He added that "We stand in solidarity" with the LGBT community and the people of Orlando.[80] Vigils were held in several Canadian cities, including Toronto,[95] Vancouver[96] and Markham.[97][98]
  •   Chile: The Foreign Ministry of Chile offered "its condolences to the people of the United States and the families of the victims of the brutal attack in Orlando."[80]
  •   China: President Xi Jinping expressed deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the people of the United States and expressed grief to the victims of the terror attack.[99]
  •   Colombia: President Juan Santos condemned the shooting and expressed solidarity with the victims.[80]
  •   Croatia: The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs tweeted: "We fully condemn the horrible shooting in Orlando. Our condolences and thoughts go to the victims families and friends."[100]
  •   Cuba: President Raul Castro stated: "The Cuban people and government express their condolences and solidarity with the families of the victims".[101]
  •   Czech Republic: President Miloš Zeman sent his condolences to U.S. President Barack Obama.[102]
  •   Denmark: Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen said he was horrified by the shooting, that his thoughts were with the victims and called for all to "unite in the fight for equal rights."[80]
  •   Djibouti: President Ismail Omar Guelleh sent a letter of condolence to President Obama condemning the barbaric attack and expressing his sympathy with the American people.[103]
  •   Dominican Republic: César Dargam, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, signed the condolence book at the U.S. embassy in Santo Domingo and reaffirmed support for the fight against terrorism.[104]
  •   Egypt: Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zaid strongly condemned the attacks and offered the Egyptian government's and people's condolences to the American people and government. He said that Egypt and America stood "united in this moment of grief".[105]
  •   Finland: Prime Minister Juha Sipilä expressed his condolences on Twitter.[106]
  •   France: President François Hollande condemned the shooting, while expressing "full support to the American people."[80]
  •   Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed complete shock and offered her condolences to the families of the victims saying, "Our heart is heavy." Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated, "I condemn such senseless violence in the strongest possible terms. Be assured that Germany stands close to provide any possible support you may request."[107]
  •   Greece: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement condemning the attack and expressed condolences to the families.[108]
  •   Guatemala: President Jimmy Morales condemned the shooting.[citation needed]
  •   Hungary: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade condemned the shooting and expressed its condolences to the families of the victims. The ministry emphasized "the importance of the fight against ISIS to prevent further tragedies".[109]
  •   India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was shocked and that his thoughts and prayers were with the injured and the families of the victims.[80]
  •   Iran: A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "The Islamic Republic of Iran deplores deaths of civilians in cold-blood terrorism and is determined to seriously thwart menaces of terrorism as an ominous phenomenon."[110]
  •   Iraq: The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces released a statement through its Twitter account condemning the attacks.[111]
  •   Ireland: Taoiseach Enda Kenny offered his condolences in a letter to President Obama, and said that "Ireland stands with the US in this time of immeasurable grief."[80] President Michael D. Higgins offered his condolences in an official statement, saying that "Our thoughts are with the people of Florida and the community in Orlando and Orange County at this difficult time. The loss of innocent life on such a horrendous scale is truly shocking and challenges us all."[112] On June 14, the government ordered that flags be flown at half mast across the country.[113]
  •   Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was saddened and that Israelis "feel your pain as if it were our own" on account of the victims.[80]
  •   Italy: Prime Minister Matteo Renzi tweeted: "Solidarity and compassion from the Italian government for the heinous massacre of Orlando in Florida. Our hearts are with our American brothers."[80]
  •   Jamaica: In a statement, Prime Minister Andrew Holness extended condolences to the people of the United States and added that "[t]he world must finally deal with terrorism and gun violence, which continues to scar our quest for peace and brotherhood among peoples. The people of the United States of America are constantly in our prayers as we have been in yours in our times of tragedy and pain. We stand together with you as brothers and sisters committed to a better world for our peoples."[114]
  •   Japan: In a message to President Obama, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe denounced the attack and said that "Japan stands with the United States and the people of the United States at this difficult time."[115]
  •   Luxembourg: The only openly gay world leader, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, tweeted: "My thoughts go to the victims of the senseless attack in #Orlando and their families. A sad day for the #LGBT-Community."[116] An official statement of condolence was issued later by his office, condemning the "senseless act of terror" and wishing a "a speedy recovery to the many wounded".[117]
Candles and messages of support at the end place of the vigil, the Love Monument in St. Julians, Malta.
  •   Malta: A vigil named Walk towards love,[118] was held in St. Julian's, Malta on June 17.[119] Helena Dalli, the minister of civil liberties, passed her condolences to the families and friends to the victims and survivors.[120]
  •   Mexico: President Enrique Peña Nieto said that Mexico deeply regretted the violence of the shooting, and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims and the people of the United States.[80]
  •   Netherlands: The Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, Bert Koenders, expressed his condolences to United States Secretary of State, John Kerry.[80]
  •   Norway: Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she was horrified and called the shooting "senseless brutality." She also said that her thoughts were with the victims and their loved ones.[80]
  •   Pakistan: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif released a statement saying, "No innocent man, woman or child should ever feel afraid of being shot or killed for being who they are in a progressive and democratic society. This is against every principle of pluralism, tolerance and humanity that we have been striving for. This does not represent the will of a vast majority of Muslims."[80] Being open about one's sexual orientation is considered a taboo in Pakistan and there are only laws protecting transgender and transsexual persons.
  •   Poland: Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski released a statement expressing his condolences.[121]
  •   Portugal: President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa sent a message of condolence to the government saying, "On behalf of the Portuguese people and on my own, I want to convey you our national solidarity in the aftermath of such dramatic event, and ask you to accept my heartfelt condolences."[122]
  •   Romania: A member of LGBT community in Romania pays respect to the victims of a mass shooting in the United States next to the US embassy to Romania in Bucharest on June 14, 2016.[123]
  •   Russia: President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and to Barack Obama.[124] Russian authorities arrested a gay couple outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after they were reported breaching the Russian LGBT propaganda law.[125] Russia supported the United Nations Security Council statement condemning the shooting for "targeting persons as a result of their sexual orientation".[126]
  •   Saudi Arabia: Saudi Ambassador to the United States Abdullah Al-Saud released a statement saying, "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns in the strongest terms the attack on innocent people in Orlando, Florida, and sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to the people of the United States."[127]
  •   South Africa: President Jacob Zuma sent a message of condolence to the government and people of the United States, and condemned attacks on the LGBTQI community.[128]
  •   South Korea: President Park Geun-hye sent a message of condolence to the victims and the families, stating that she also wished for a quick recovery of those injured in the attack.[129]
  •   Spain: The Spanish king Felipe VI,[130] as well as the four candidates to the presidency, Mariano Rajoy, Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Iglesias and Albert Rivera, expressed their condolences.[131] In several cities, as in Madrid, Barcelona, Cádiz, Málaga, Granada, Gijón, Mérida, or Tenerife, there were popular gatherings of up to 200 people to mourn and remember the deceased.[130]
  •   Sri Lanka: President Maithripala Sirisena tweeted, "My heartfelt condolences to loved ones of the victims of the Orlando shooting. We must make the world a safer place for all communities".[132]
  •   Sweden: Prime Minister Stefan Löfven sent condolences to President Obama and the people of the United States while also noting the LGBT victims and the need to combat hatred, violence, and terror as well as to stand up for human rights.[133]
  •    Switzerland: Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter stated: "Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist acts that struck Orlando yesterday, and extends its sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the victims of this tragedy.".[134]
  •   Taiwan: Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen echoed the sentiments of other world leaders by expressing her sentiments in the official response from the Presidential Office of Republic of China.The spokesman of the Office of President of the R.O.C., Alex Huang, said on Monday that "President Tsai is deeply concerned over the deadly terror attack in Orlando, Florida. Ms. Tsai has directed the Secretary General of the National Security Council, Joseph Wu to express our concern to the Director of American Institute in Taiwan Kin W. Moy." Mr. Huang added that "in addition to her condemnation of violent terrorism, Mr. Wu will also communicate President Tsai's condolences to the U.S. government to mourn victims and their families." [135]
  •   Thailand: The nation's King Bhumibol Adulyadej expressed sympathy and condolences to President Obama and the bereaved families "for their irreparable loss caused by this shocking incident." Mourners placed flowers and held a candle light vigil outside of the United States embassy in Bangkok.[citation needed]
  •   Turkey: In a press release, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Turkey condemned the terrorist attack perpetrated in Orlando city and conveyed condolences to the people of the US.[136]
  •   Turkmenistan: In a statement, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow said that he was "Strongly opposing any manifestations of terrorism and extremism, Turkmenistan fully supports the efforts of the international community in combating this scourge and its elimination".[137]
  •   UAE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE condemned the shooting.[138]
  •   Ukraine: President Petro Poroshenko expressed his condolences to the families of those killed and injured.[139]
  •   United Kingdom: Prime Minister David Cameron said he was horrified and expressed his thoughts with the victims and their families.[80] Vigils were held in memorial for those who passed, a dozen vigils were held in different parts of the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II said "Prince Philip and I have been shocked by the events in Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected."[140] Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, tweeted "I stand with the City of Orlando against hate and bigotry. My thoughts are with all the victims of this horrific attack #lovewins".[141]
  •    Vatican: The Holy See Press Office said in a statement: "The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred".[142]

ISIL-related responsesEdit

  •   ISIL: Online Dawah Operations, a Telegram channel believed to be run by ISIL sympathizers, gloated of the attack soon after, while ISIL's channel remained silent about it.[143] Some news outlets reported that ISIL claimed responsibility for the shooting.[144][145] These reports were based on the Amaq News Agency, an online presence reportedly affiliated with ISIL,[146] writing, "Source to Amaq Agency: The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida and that left more than 100 dead or wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter".[147] A June 13 broadcast from the ISIL radio station al-Bayan said that Mateen was a "soldier of the caliphate" but did not indicate that the group had any foreknowledge of the shooting. Yoram Schweitzer of the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies posited that Mateen associated the attack with ISIL to add notoriety, and said it was very unlikely that ISIL had known of him before the attack.[148]

See alsoEdit


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