Human Rights

A Muslim homophobe targets US presidential election

No decent human with a moral conscience will now join Donald Trump's bandwagon because of this crime.

A mourner holds up her fist painted in rainbow colours at a vigil for the victims a day after the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida [REUTERS]

There are many pertinent factors to be considered in the despicable act of mass murder that according to law-enforcement authorities was evidently perpetrated by a Muslim homophobe inside a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida where some 50 people are reported killed, including the assailant, and at least 53 injured. 

Over days, weeks, and months to come this horrid crime will attract countless interpretations, some very legitimate concerns, and many obscene conclusions.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump respond to Orlando shooting

But two paramount factors will endure and stand out through all these postpartum anxieties: one of particular importance for millions of troubled Muslims around the world and the other for the already traumatised US voters searching their souls for how to vote in this presidential election. 

Muslim homophobia

The most compelling fact about this crime is that it was perpetrated by a Muslim homophobe.

Muslims around the world are rightly mobilised to disown this mass murderer and distance their faith from such acts of malicious cruelty. Their collective condemnation of this mass murderer is correct and timely but their task to confront Muslim homophobia will have just begun.

ALSO READ: The hate behind the Orlando massacre

As a deeply entrenched psychopathological condition, homophobia is not exclusive to any religion or any people.

As a deeply entrenched psychopathological condition, homophobia is not exclusive to any religion or any people.

There are homophobic Jews, homophobic Christians, homophobic Hindus, homophobic atheists, and plenty of homophobic Muslims too. Their common denominator is not their communal membership in any religion but their identical homophobia. 

There has been homophobic violence in all communities and among all religious denominations. When expressed in such gruesome violent crimes, such homophobic acts of violence could very well be a sign of the repressed and denied homosexuality of the perpetrator himself.    

There are many other lessons to be learned from this heinous crime in Florida. But this particular trait of homophobia among Muslims and the moral and ethical complexities that Muslims as Muslims face is perhaps the most urgent for Muslims. 

The law enforcement officials have now habitually gone off on a tangent to the goose-chase of Mateen's bogus links to the ISIL (also known as ISIS). That is a dead-end decoy and will lead to nothing but more confusion and chaos in dealing with the root cause of such crimes.

A couple hugs under a pride flag as residents of San Francisco and the Bay area gather to mourn the victims of a mass shooting at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida [EPA]


But that fact does not relieve Muslims from doing their own urgent soul-searching concerning homophobia. Yes there are many other factors involved here:  from the US-led invasion of Iraq to the major US allies state sponsored fanaticism in the Arab and Muslim world and beyond to the obscenity of the availability of assault weapons in the US. But none of those factors should distract Muslims from a fundamental fear of homoerotic sexuality in their own midst.     

Yes some of the most sacrosanct doctrines of their faith are challenged when aging Muslim parents suddenly or eventually discover that their own sons and daughters are homosexual. This will shake them to the core of their existence.

But I have seen with my own eyes the grace, the patience, and the tenacity with which their love for their own children has given moral depth and doctrinal nuance to their faith.

ALSO READ: The myth of the 'moderate Muslim'

Love will ultimately triumph. They will overcome their own fears, and they will find in their faith plenty of room for the varieties of ways their Almighty God has created them in His own image.

The ever-vulgar and unfailingly rude Donald Trump congratulated himself in a tweet for having been proved right that Muslims must be barred from entering the US.

Trump will not reap any benefit

Soon after the news of this horrid crime came out the ever-vulgar and unfailingly rude Donald Trump congratulated himself in a tweet for having been proved right that Muslims must be barred from entering the US.

How is that related to a US-born and raised Muslim American homophobe psychopath is not the fact that will bother Trump and his xenophobic supporters.    

Donald Trump is now presumed to be the single most loutish beneficiary of this dreadful crime. But that is a false assumption. 

Only those who were already convinced by his Islamophobia will now be confirmed in their bigotry.

No decent human being endowed with a moral conscience and/or critical intelligence will now join Trump's bandwagon because of this crime. 

What are Americans talking about in these early traumatic hours?  They talk about gun control, they talk about homophobia, and they talk about how love will overcome hatred.  None of those conversations will benefit Trump, for all of them are against the very grain of his boorish and vulgar campaign.

Trump and his hooligan supporters are more isolated than ever. Their only chance in this election comes from his chief competition, from Hillary Clinton, a deeply despised candidate who has thrown an entire nation into the traumatic stupor of trying to convince themselves how tightly to hold their noses to vote for her only to prevent Trump from becoming the next US president. 

Two people, Americans and Muslims, converging on the edges of their common destiny as Muslim-Americans, now face two traumatic experiences of Islamophobia and homophobia together.

From this tragic common destiny a much more robust moral rectitude could emerge to face the future with ethical rectitude and moral purpose. That to me is the only way the precious memory of those perished innocent lives can be best remembered and most honoured.

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.

The views expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy. 

Source: Al Jazeera