June 15, 2016
The father of Omar Mateen, the suspected shooter in the Orlando nightclub massacre, has expressed sorrow for his son’s actions, saying he will not forgive him.
“What he did was totally wrong, I don’t approve of him, what he did, as a father, I don’t forgive him,”, Seddique Mateen said in an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday.
“I’m very sad and I’m very mad and angry why did he do that to the homeland (sic). Those people who died are our family; they got affected and the 52 people who got injured, they are our family,” he added.
The elder Mateen said the atrocity his son committed is completely inconsistent with his family’s religion and against what he taught them.
Armed with assault weapons, Mateen stormed the Pulse Club on Sunday, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others at the gay club, marking the worst ever mass shooting in US history. The suspect, identified by US media as an alleged Daesh sympathizer, was a US citizen of Afghan descent from Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The incident sparked fierce public debate and many US officials expressed their views on the massacre. Among the latest was Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, who lashed out at those who blame Islam for the shooting.
Nothing less than bigotry
Speaking at a Tuesday press conference outside his campaign headquarters in Washington, DC, Sanders said the gunman’s motives are complicated and remain largely unknown.
“Was he motivated by the ideology of some fanatic Islamic organization which believes it is somehow heroic to mow down innocent and defenseless men and women?” he asked.
“Was he motivated by homophobia and hatred of the gay community? Was he motivated by some kind of hatred of Latinos? Was he suicidal and wanted to end his life by taking others with him? We may never know the answer to those questions,” he continued.
The Vermont senator noted that the attacker was one person, not an entire people or a religion.
“The Muslim people did not commit this act. A man named Omar Mateen did. To blame an entire religion for the acts of a single individual is nothing less than bigotry, and that is not what this country is supposed to be about.”
Sanders also called for a ban on assault weapons.
US President Barack Obama is scheduled to travel to Orlando on Thursday to pay respect to the victims of the deadly shooting.