Reports That Orlando Gunman Was Mocked For Religion Fuel Islamophobia

On Tuesday, the media reported what appears to be a twisted “justification” for Omar Mateen’s commitment of the worst mass shooting in American history.

New evidence released on Monday by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office showed that Omar Mateen had told coworkers at a Florida courthouse that he had connections to terrorists and a mass shooter, The Guardian reported.

The majority of Tuesday’s reports on this subject focus on the fact that Mateen was mocked at work for being Muslim. This underhandedly fuels Islamophobic rhetoric. The narrative is being repeated over and over: According to 70 pages of records shared by the St. Lucie sheriff’s office, Mateen had complained of being ridiculed by his colleagues for being Muslim.

The media reported a similar scenario with the 2015 San Bernardino shooters in which attorneys claimed Syed Farook was made fun of by his coworkers for his beard.

The Islamophobic logic appears to be that because these Muslim men were made fun of for their religion, it gave them such a tremendous grudge against humanity—or non-Muslims—that it drove them to commit heinous acts of murder.

What should be considered most troubling about the newly released records is that after Mateen directly told colleagues he had links to the Boston marathon bombing suspects and Nidal Hasan—the U.S. soldier responsible for the Fort Hood shooting—the FBI found in 2013 that he had no terror fingerprints.

Reports say that FBI agent Randall Glass declared he would not “go postal or anything like that.” The FBI further stated, “We do not believe [Mateen] is a terrorist.”

In a letter to his employers at G4S Secure Solutions, Mateen wrote that he lied about having terrorist links in order to stop his colleagues for making fun of him for being Muslim.

He wrote, “I love the United States. The boasting I did it just to satisfy the gang of coworkers who ganged up against me. I’m 1,000 percent pure American… I’m against these terrorists, anyone of them.”

The gunman was again investigated by the FBI in 2014 when it came forward that a Syrian suicide bomber had ties to the mosque he attended. But, the FBI determined he was not a threat.

In June, Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in what turned out to be the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, killing 49 and leaving 53 wounded. Mateen was shot dead by police on the scene after a three hour long shootout. A recent autopsy report indicated that Mateen was HIV-negative, but a regular steroid user.

When The Guardian asked the FBI office for comment, the Miami office spokesman declined, stating that the case is still under examination.

When President Barack Obama called the shooting both “an act of terror and an act of hate,” he was absolutely right. By targeting the gay community directly and by pledging allegiance to Isis right before murdering dozens, Mateen framed himself as the perfect terrorist.

Before the media hastily concludes that for Muslims committing murder is justified because they can’t take a joke, the FBI needs to come forward with a good explanation of why they let someone like Mateen slip through their protocol—twice.

Instead of fearmongering the fact that Mateen was ridiculed for being Muslim, those in positions of power must be held accountable for taking the right steps to protect citizens from such homegrown acts of terror.  

Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Omar Mateen via Myspace/Handout via REUTERS

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