Orlando shooting: Homosexuality and radical Islam have long been at war

Vikram Johri
Vikram JohriJun 13, 2016 | 09:21

Orlando shooting: Homosexuality and radical Islam have long been at war

As with all terror attacks, the one in Orlando too will invoke calls to maintain calm, to not blame a particular religion or community, to look upon it as a tragedy perpetrated by someone with mental health issues.

And as with all terror attacks, it will become increasingly clear that the attack was part of a well-established pattern witnessed earlier in Paris and London and Mumbai, of radical Islam trying to force its vision of the right and proper on the world, of its adherents willing to commit grave injustices in the name of Allah.


It is not easy writing about the attack. It targeted a community of which I am a member. It was just another Saturday night in Pulse, the nightclub that became the target of Omar Mateen, an American citizen, born and brought up in that country, yet who harboured such a visceral hatred for it that he thought nothing of gunning down 50 of his compatriots only because they were gay.

For the gay man, the nightclub is a place of particular sanctity. It is here that he truly finds himself, as he unpeels layer upon layer of the subterfuge that lets him survive in the world. It is here that he finds love, however temporary it may be, however lustful its contours. Even as the West moves inexorably towards granting gays the same rights as straights, it is the nightclub and its hallucinatory promise that will always make a gay man skip a heartbeat.

It is this heart of gay life that was attacked in Orlando. There is no sweeter way to say this: radical Islam is the number one threat of our times. It harbours an ideology whose lifeblood is a deep hatred of freedom. Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the IS in a call to 911, only took forward what the terror group has been proudly doing in its occupied territories in West Asia.


A few months ago, pictures of gay men in IS-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria made the rounds of media. Their faces covered, they were thrown off cliffs, their bloodied, battered bodies joining hundreds others in the macabre dance of death that the IS slickly performs from time to time.

Orlando mass shooter Omar Mateen. (Reuters)

Starting from West Asia but hoping to conquer the world, the terror group wants to establish a global Caliphate where the rule of Sharia will reign supreme. Women, gays, and minorities of every stripe will have no rights in this land. The IS believes that the concept of rights itself is an Occidental construct that deserves to be junked.

This by itself is evil enough. But when American and European Muslims start subscribing to this depraved ideology and are willing to carry out lone wolf attacks on its behalf, we face a problem of altogether different proportions.

As Europe grapples with one of the worst refugee crises in history, this latest attack will reinforce the problems of assimilating diverse populations. Europe has been at the receiving end of this problem far longer than the US. The continent, which prided itself on its open borders, has been forced to rethink its strategy due to the massive inflow of refugees from West Asia.


For men and women trooping in from regressive societies, adjustment requires more than attaining physical and financial security. The mass sexual attacks on women in Cologne on this New Year's Eve by men of West Asian and North African origin highlight the problems with assimilating people from vastly different socio-cultural backgrounds.

The European model of multiculturalism, where minorities are encouraged to retain their customs, has backfired terribly in failing to integrate its Muslim immigrant populations whose children are now adopting radical Islam in droves.

Up to 2015, over 6,000 European Muslims had travelled to Syria to join IS. Tracking them has proven to be a logistical nightmare. Besides, a culture of political correctness has ensured that discussing the dangers of radical Islam invites social ridicule. When a society starts getting offended by words, it becomes numb to the threat of real violence.

Homosexuality and radical Islam have long been in battle in Europe. One of the earliest detractors of multiculturalism was gay Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who was labelled far-right because he deemed Islam incompatible with modern Europe.

Murdered by an activist in 2002, Fortuyn was prescient about the impending churn in Europe. In recent years, other politicians such as Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen have spoken openly about the incapacity of Islam to accept homosexuality.

America, with its melting-pot tradition, was believed to be more secure. But as the cases of Mateen and the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, show, the country is as vulnerable to terror strikes as Europe. Thanks to easy availability of guns and a vast Muslim population, chances of individuals taking the law into their hands in grisly manner is a real threat.

When Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that he will ban entry of Muslims to America, a furore ensued. But even he could not have envisioned the ready source of home-grown terror staring America in the face.

Mateen's father has said that his son was not a terrorist; rather he was a homophobe who had once spoken about being disgusted by the sight of two men kissing. If that were so, this would be a hate crime.

But even here radical Islam rears its ugly head. Not liking gay people and massacring 50 of them is not the same thing. Many conservative members of other religions have reservations about homosexuality.

Indeed, when the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the country last year, many conservatives balked at the dilution of a beloved institution.

But those reservations pale in comparison to the physical threat that radical Islam presents. It believes in the supremacy of its ways, and insists they be adopted on pain of death. It brooks no opposition, no argument or analysis that might expose the hollowness of its shockingly dated vision of the world.

Even as it hates the West, it has no compunction in exploiting the fruits of Western enterprise and innovation to further its cause. Mateen had never travelled outside the US and was radicalised online.

For all the belated hand-wringing, there is little hope of a solution. Even as radical Islam spreads its tentacles, the dominant narrative in the West is stuck on refugee rights and anti-Trump rhetoric. The failure of the Arab world to reform itself is brushed aside in pleas to build more politically correct societies.

Radical Islam presents the most potent challenge to Enlightenment ideals dominant in the West for hundreds of years. From the looks of it, we seem doomed to shedding helpless tears as an abstract, faceless threat chokes us with its vice-like grip.

Last updated: June 14, 2016 | 11:42
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