MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md. — Leaders from the Muslim and LGBTQ communities, along with many others, gathered Monday night to embrace each other and condemn Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The event, held at the International Cultural Center in Montgomery Village, began with prayers led by an imam, a rabbi and a reverend.
Maryland Delegate Bonnie Cullison’s voice broke with emotion as she spoke to the packed room.
“As a lesbian, I am deeply hurt by what happened in Orlando. Members that I don’t know, but members of my community — young members of my community, shot down in the prime of their lives,” she said.
Patrick Paschall, with Free State Legal and Equality Maryland, was defiant, saying: “We will not be scared back into our closets.”
Hamza Khan, who leads the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County, said, “The Muslim community is heartbroken at the horrifying events that have occurred in Orlando, Florida.”
Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, the president of WORDE, a Muslim-led nonprofit that works to counter religious radicalism, said some people question whether making public condemnations and holding peace vigils actually does any good, but she says it does.
“We’re going to show the terrorists that we will not allow them to divide us. We will show them that we care for one another,” Mirahmadi said.
There was also a solemn reading of the names and ages of those killed in Orlando.