Muslim, LGBT leaders seek solidarity, not backlash in Orlando shooting’s wake

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, June 14, 2016

By Frederick Melo

St. Paul Pioneer Press

As a Muslim religious leader, Imam Mohammed Dukuly treads a fine line when he talks about the mass shooting in Orlando that left 49 people dead Sunday at a gay nightclub.

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His faith, he said, does not embrace gay rights, but it would never condone the actions of the gunman toward innocent people.

“Islam does not allow this, a man married to a man, a woman married to a woman,” said Dukuly on Monday, following a Minneapolis news conference that drew Muslim leaders from across the metro to condemn the violence. “But it does not give us the right to impose harm on people or kill people — under no circumstances.”

Muslim leaders gathered side by side with organizers from the state’s leading lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender groups to voice anguish over the shootings in Florida and urge the public to respect both communities. The event was held in the Minneapolis offices of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

A certain tragic irony of timing was not lost on anyone: The attack occurred about a week into the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown to commemorate the revelation of the Quran, or Muslim holy book, to the prophet Muhammad. It’s also two weeks before the Twin Cities gay pride festival takes place in Minneapolis on June 25 and 26.

“Both of our communities are often misunderstood, harassed and marginalized,” said Phil Duran, legal director for OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBTQ organization.

And in an election year, he said, both communities are “targeted by politicians who seek to sow divisions and fear for their own gain.”

His words were echoed by CAIR executive director Jaylani Hussein, who said many gay advocates have frequently defended Muslim immigrants from hateful rhetoric.

“The LGBT community has historically stood up for the most marginalized groups, including the Muslim community,” Hussein said. “The Muslim community condemns in the strongest possible terms the mass shooting in Orlando. This heinous attack is antithetical to the ideals of a civilized society. … This is a hateful act of terror and it has no place in faith, in any faith.”

The Rev. Cynthia Bronson Sweigert of the Minnesota Council of Churches said her organization applauded efforts like “LaunchGood,” a Muslim-led crowdfunding platform, which has raised $46,000 for the families of the Orlando shooting victims.