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Arab Social Media Users React to Orlando Terror Massacre: ‘Root of Evil Is West, Not Islam’

JAFFA, Israel – Stark differences of opinion emerged on social media in the Arab world on Sunday and Monday, after 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who reportedly swore allegiance to the Islamic State, carried out a deadly shooting attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The Sunni-Shia divide was also evident in the online comments.

One Shia Muslim, Rida Muhamad Hashem, seemingly from Iran, wrote: “Thanks to the Wahhabist and ISIS ideology, Omar Mateen killed more than 50 people and wounded over 60 Americans in Orlando, U.S. Terror has no religion.”

Dr. Nasser Tamimi felt differently however, writing, “According to the FBI, Omar Mateen was born in New York, studied in the U.S. and since 2007 worked at the international security firm G4S. That means that the man had no accusations of being ‘Wahhabist’ in his file.” Tamimi followed up the post with an explanation that he meant that there were no warning signs that Mateen was a Salafi Jihadist.

Muhamad Alshanqiti, a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated researcher, posted that “The root of evil is hidden in Western countries, not Islamic ideology. They are buried in systematically evil policy rather than the sporadic reactions of victims of the same evil,” he said, casting responsibility for the attack on the U.S and its policies in the Middle East.

In another post, Alshanqiti added that “Cessations of the daily massacres of evil and villainous tyrants and their international supporters on Islamic land, this is more important that [Donald] Trump’s comments and racism.”

Prominent Syrian activist Rami Hayat expressed indirect support for the attack, tweeting: “A Muslim who doesn’t understand how the West views him now after the attack in Orlando, as hundreds of thousands are killed in Syria and Iraq, should be institutionalized in a mental hospital.”

In another Tweet, Hayat blamed the West. “Whoever doesn’t understand the connection between American and French foreign policy to the attacks in Paris and Orlando should buy himself a pacifier and watch Bob the Builder.”

Author Samar Jarrah addressed Mateen’s work, saying that “Omar Mateen joined the contractor company G4S in 2007. This is the company boycotted by the international BDS movement for its role in Israeli prisons and checkpoints.”

Iraqi Colonel and NATO personnel lecturer Abdelkarim Klaph called on the West to respond to the attack with greater support for the Iraqi army in their fight against Islamic State militants. “Omar Mateen murdered and wounded 100 Americans in Florida and ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. We condemn this criminal act and call on the West to multiply its support for Iraq for the good of the entire world.”

Another user named Bandar, tweeted that “Omar Mateen, like all Muslims, wants to kill gays and eliminate them. The difference is that he has the boldness to do so. The others are just cowards and satisfy themselves with incitement against homosexuals.”

Alaa Mustafa, an Iraqi political science lecturer, wrote: “Omar Mateen, an American with Afghani origins, adopted the Jihadist ideology. The same ideology that once enjoyed the patronage of Washington, which treated it as an ally, rebelled and murdered over 50 in a night club.”

Venus, a Twitter user from Yemen, wrote: “The name of the terrorist from Orlando who shot and killed dozens in Omar Mateen, an American Muslim. I’m sure that if they investigate his past they’ll find links between him and Saudi Arabia.”

An Egyptian social media user, Bassem Amin, placed blame on the U.S. for the attack, saying that “America says that the name of the man who murdered the people in the nightclub is Omar Mateen, born in 1986, the son of Afghani parents. You got us.” His post received positive feedback including from a user named Iman who wrote “Anyway, he has American citizenship. That means that it’s your problem.”

Nawwaf criticized those who condemned the attack and expressed sympathy for the victims while requesting from “all those who hurt for the homosexual victims, please leave some sympathy for the victims in Aleppo, Homs, Fallujah and Burma.”

An Emirati television presenter, Fatima Balushi, tweeted that “Muhammad Ali is dead and left the entire world a positive message about Islam and someone comes and murders the love of Islam in the hearts of those who wanted to believe that Islam is a religion of peace.

Abu Ahmed Alrfhaoy, an Islamic activist from Sinai, wrote: “Elites who collaborate with the Americans condemn the attack at the nightclub of sexual deviants and label him a terrorist. To those collaborators – Values cannot be split! And you, the Afghani, made us proud.”

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