Across the world, shock and condemnation at Orlando massacre
From across the world, officials and public figures are expressing condemnation and shock over the Florida mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub on Sunday, when police say a gunman wielding an assault-type rifle opened fire, killing at least 49 people and wounding dozens.
The Eiffel Tower will shine in the colors of a rainbow on Monday night, starting at 10:45 p.m. (2045 GMT) to honor victims of the mass shooting at an Orlando gay club. Paris City Hall began paying respects in the afternoon with a display of American and rainbow flags, while French President Francois Hollande condemned the mass killing as an attack on freedom. He vowed to toughen the fight against terrorism “at the side of the American people.”
“It’s American that was hit but freedom that was targeted,” Hollande said after signing a book of condolences at the U.S. Embassy, “freedom to choose one’s sexual orientation, the freedom to determine one’s way of life.”
France feels deeply the horror of deadly attacks after the November terror attacks on a music hall, restaurants and bars and the main sports stadium killed 130. That was preceded by attacks on a satirical newspaper and a kosher grocery store. All were claimed by the Islamic State group.
J.K. Rowling says one victim of the Orlando killings worked on the Harry Potter Ride at the Universal Studios theme park.
The author tweeted a picture of 22-year-old Luis Vielma in a Hogwarts school tie, and said: “I can’t stop crying.”
Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister David Cameron have sent messages of condolence from Britain for the attack, which killed at least 49 people at a gay nightclub.
Buckingham Palace says the queen sent a message to President Barack Obama saying: “Prince Philip and I have been shocked by the events in Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it’s important to continue with “our open, tolerant life” following attacks such as the mass shooting at an Orlando gay club.
Speaking during a visit to China on Monday, Merkel said that “we have a heavy heart” over the fact that “the hatred and malignancy of a single person” cost so many lives.
She added: “We are firmly determined, even when such murderous attacks put us into deep sorrow, to continue with our open, tolerant life.”
In downtown Berlin, dozens of people have come together in front of the U.S. Embassy to mourn the victims of the Orlando shooting. People were setting white lilies and pink roses next to teddy bears in front of a rainbow flag and an American flag.
“We are very much in shock, but we also want to show that nobody will succeed in intimidating us,” Joerg Steinert from the Lesbian and Gay Association said. “We’re here today to condemn this act.”
Djuke Nickelsen, carrying a bouquet of cornflowers and chamomile, said she’d come to show her solidarity with the victims and their relatives.
“I was very touched and sad these people were killed — all they did was embrace and enjoy life.”
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF
The U.N. human rights chief has denounced the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, commenting at the opening of the three-week Human Rights Council session in Geneva, chronicled a number of human rights abuses and concerns.
He added: “I also condemn with the greatest possible force the outrageous attacks by violent extremists on innocent people, chosen at random, or because of their presumed beliefs, or opinions, or — as we saw yesterday — their sexual orientation.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin says in a letter to President Barack Obama that Israel stands “shoulder to shoulder with our American brothers and sisters” after the attack on the LGBT community. Rivlin sent his condolences, saying there is “no comfort for those who have had their loved ones torn away from them.”
The Orlando attack has dominated news in Israel, which has seen a wave of Palestinian attacks in recent months. On Wednesday two Palestinian gunmen killed four people at a popular shopping and restaurant area in Tel Aviv. LGBT groups in Israel planned rallies and other support for the community in Orlando.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah says the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history is a “senseless act of terror and hate” and that “Palestinians stand with the American people in this difficult time.”
The statement made no direct reference to the LGBT community. Homosexuality is deeply taboo in the conservative Palestinian society. Gay Palestinians tend to be secretive about their social lives and some have crossed into Israel to live openly safely.
The sentiment is reflected throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told the Cabinet as he opened the weekly meeting live on television on Monday morning that the Orlando attack “tells us that terrorism knows no religion, boundary and geography. Terrorism must be eliminated.”
He says that Afghans “do not support terrorism but the victims of terrorist attacks” and offered his condolences to the people and government of the United States. “Our hearts and minds are with our U.S. partners.” He also urged “collective actions to end such attacks.”
Pakistan’s former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf condemned the Orlando shooting, saying ‘this is a sobering reminder that extremism and terrorism are on the rise.’
Musharraf, who is facing court cases at home but left Pakistan in March for treatment abroad, says on his Facebook page the world must “address the root causes of global terrorism to suck the oxygen out of the extremist narrative of hate, intolerance, bigotry and the promotion of obscurantist ideology that is radicalizing vulnerable Muslims around the world.”
Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Washington condemned “in the strongest terms the attack on innocent people in Orlando” in a statement Monday from Ambassador Abdullah Al Saud. He said that Saudi Arabia “will continue our work with the United States and our partners in the international community for an end to these senseless acts of violence and terror.” The statement did not mention the fact the attack happened at a gay nightclub.
Saudi Arabia outlaws same-sex relationships and non-Muslim gays and lesbians can be sentenced to death by stoning, according to Human Rights Watch. Such executions have not been carried out in recent years.
Iran condemned the attack, but also made no mention of the fact that it happened in a gay nightclub.
State TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari as saying “Iran, based on its main policies of condemning terrorism and its strong determination to confront this ominous phenomenon, condemns the Orlando terrorist attack.”
In Iran, sodomy convictions can carry a death sentence, while lesbians can face 100 lashes, according to Human Rights Watch.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned the Orlando attack “in the strongest possible terms,” and offered condolences to the American government and people. “Egypt stands next to the American people in these difficult times, offering sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.”
Egypt’s statement urged for international solidarity and a “firm, comprehensive approach to confronting terrorism, which knows no borders or religion, and is incompatible with all humanitarian principles and values.”
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The United Arab Emirates — home to the Western-friendly metropolises of Abu Dhabi and Dubai— condemned “the terrorist attack” in Orlando, expressed its solidarity with the United States and called on the international community to work to “eliminate the scourge of terrorism.”
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry is strongly condemning the “cowardly” attack in Orlando, expressing solidarity with the victims and the U.S. government and blaming the massacre on the Islamic State group. It says no country or person is safe from “this global blind terrorism.”
The Lebanese statement doesn’t explicitly mention attacks on homosexuals. But religiously-mixed Lebanon is the most liberal among the region’s Arab nations regarding same-sex relationships, with an active LBGT community. Although technically homosexuality is against Lebanese law, activists have strongly challenged it in courts.
A vigil honoring those killed and wounded in a Florida nightclub shooting drew at least a dozen people to the front gate of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. Participants passed around white and yellow candles to light in memory of those killed.
“We are distraught by what happened in Orlando,” said Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, the vigil’s organizer. “We are looking for a way to express our condolences and solidarity with the people and government of the United States to raise awareness of problems of violence against the LGBT community.”
U.S. Ambassador Glyn T. Davis came out to speak with the Thai LGBT activists and lit a candle.
Separately, Thailand’s Royal Palace released a message to President Obama from King Bhumibol Adulyadej expressing sympathy and condolences to him and the bereaved families “for their irreparable loss caused by this shocking incident.”
Indonesia’s foreign ministry said the government condemns the attack and extends deepest sympathy to the families of victims and the American people.
But Fahri Hamzah, the deputy speaker of Indonesia’s parliament, tweeted that the mass killing happened because LGBT people are too visible. Anti-gay rhetoric by officials has been increasingly common in the world’s most populous Muslim nation over the past year, fueled by army leaders and conservative religious groups who view homosexuality as an import from the West. Hamzah was recently booted out of his party for ethical violations.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency issued a statement saying President Xi Jinping had telephoned his American counterpart Barack Obama to express his condolences over the Orlando shootings.
Xi was quoted as saying that “on behalf of the government and people of China, I convey to President Obama and the American government and people my deepest sympathies, sincere condolences and deep grief for the victims.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has condemned the Orlando nightclub attack and expressed condolences to the victims and their families.
Abe told reporters Monday in Oita that “Japan stands together with the people of the United States” and that “this despicable act of terror cannot be tolerated.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that the Orlando mass shooting was “an attack on all of us — on all our freedoms, the freedom to gather together, to celebrate, to share time with friends.”
He said he spoke with the U.S. ambassador to Australia, John Berry, “and formally conveyed to him Australians’ sympathy, condolences and resolute solidarity in the face of this shocking act of hate and terror.”
“Together, at home and abroad, we continue the fight against terrorism and stand up for the values of our free nations,” Turnbull said.
The mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub happened shortly after a same-sex kiss was removed from a production of the musical “Les Miserables” in Singapore, and after the government said it would look into rules of foreign funding for gay pride parades like Pink Dot.
Law Minister K. Shanmugam said on Facebook: “Another senseless shooting. … It just goes on and on. The madness is not going to stop.”
The prime minister of Muslim-majority Malaysia, Najib Razak, said he was “horrified” by the Orlando mass shooting. “Islam abhors killing of innocent people,” he tweeted.
A few Malaysians, using pseudonyms, wrote on social media that they approved of the attack at the gay nightclub because the victims were “sinners,” but they were quickly condemned by many others.
Mexicans largely reacted to the Orlando nightclub shootings with messages of sympathy for the victims. President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted his condolences.
Many also lamented that mass shootings have become too common in the United States. “My first reaction on hearing the news was horror, but not disbelief,” columnist Gabriel Guerra wrote in the newspaper El Universal. “This is another of the innumerable armed attacks that occur daily in the United States.”
In the conservative state of Jalisco, a midlevel government official posted on Facebook that “It’s a shame there were only 50 and not 100.” Jalisco Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval said he had ordered that the employee be fired and promised that “expressions of discrimination will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
People at a gay pride parade in Rio de Janeiro observed a minute of silence Sunday to honor the victims of the Orlando shootings.
“What happened in the United States was unacceptable violence. We are all shocked and cannot face this fact as normal, never,” event organizer Loren Alecander told the broadcaster Globo.
In Sao Paulo, dozens of people attended a vigil Sunday night carrying candles and banners that read “Pray for Orlando.”
The government issued a statement condemning the killings and expressing solidarity with victims’ relatives and the U.S. government.
“We are going through terrible times, times of discrimination and intolerance that are taking human lives,” said President Dilma Rousseff, who has been suspended pending an impeachment trial.
Paraguayan activist Sergio Lopez said the country’s gay community is in a state of “collective mourning” after the mass shooting in Orlando.
Lopez called the attack a reminder that “hate and intolerance against people of different sexual orientation” remain.