Horror, sympathy as world reacts to Orlando mass shooting
The mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, has led to an outpouring of sympathy across the the globe, with people unfurling rainbow flags, holding vigils and lighting candles in tribute to the victims.
World and religious leaders were quick to stand in solidarity with the United States as it reeled from the worst terror attack since 9/11. And on social media, people used #LoveWins, #LoveIsLove and #OrlandoStrong to express their support.
Omar Mateen, the U.S.-born shooter, pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack, which killed 50 people and wounded at least 53.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that shooting didn’t “represent the will of a vast majority of Muslims.”
“It is just another representation of a cancer of radicalization — one that we promise to fight every day of our lives,” he said in a statement.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi, Britain’s David Cameron, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Singapore President Tony Tan were among the leaders that expressed their condolences and offered sympathy to the victim’s families.
The Queen, who celebrated her 90th birthday this weekend, led tributes in the UK, saying on Twitter that both she and Prince Philip were shocked by the events in Orlando.
Days after a terror attack in Tel Aviv, Mayor Ron Huldai tweeted an image showing City Hall lit up in rainbow colors and the colors of the U.S. flag.
In France, members of the lesbian and gay community gathered at an art center in downtown Paris on Sunday, placing burning candles in the shape of a heart and draping themselves in rainbow flags.
“We are here to express our solidarity with the victims and their families, with all the victims who were injured,” one woman who attended the vigil told CNN affiliate BFM TV.
“We have a lot of solidarity as well as a lot of sadness.”
The attack took place during Pride month, said the ILGA, which represents 1,100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) groups worldwide — “a time of joy and celebration” for the gay and lesbian community.
“It is hard not to fear that this was a targeted attack against a community, and this is a dreadful reminder of the price far too many LGBTIQ persons, all around the world, have to pay simply for being who they are,” the ILGA said in a statement.
In China, 51 LGBT groups issued a collective statement expressing “condolences, solidarity and love” and urged their members to change their social media profiles to honor the Orlando victims, while in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, gay and lesbian groups planned a candlelight vigil for Monday evening.
In unusually vivid language, the Vatican said Sunday that Pope Francis reacted in “horror” and “condemnation” after learning of the nightclub massacre.
“We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity,” the Holy See Press Office said in a statement.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered condolences to the bereaved and sought to reassure his own countrymen and women, saying that Australian intelligence and security agencies “had the tools” they need to keep people safe.
“We are rigorous in our efforts to ensure that guns are not illegally imported into Australia and that our strong gun control laws are strictly enforced,” Turnbull said.
CNN’s Amir Ahmed and Marilia Brocchetto in Atlanta, Shen Lu in Beijing and Chieu Luu in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
By Katie Hunt