PROMINENT Scots are among signatories to an open letter published in The National today condemning the use of the Orlando massacre by figures such as Donald Trump to stoke Islamophobia.

Mhairi Black, the SNP MP, joined fellow politicians Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie in a show of solidarity with others in the LGBTI community after 49 men and women were murdered at a Florida gay nightclub by Omar Mateen who reportedly pledged his allegiance to jihadist group Daesh before the shooting.

In the immediate aftermath of the killings, Trump reiterated his call for Muslims to be banned from the US.

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Scots actor Tam Dean Burn was also among the 128 people, including medics, academics, charity workers, writers, artists and journalists, to put their names to the letter challenging those who tried to use the the attack to target Muslims.

“As people who self-identify as being from the LGBTI community, it’s almost impossible to put into words the sadness that we feel for the predominantly Latin-American victims of the Orlando shooting, their grieving families and loved ones. It’s a tragedy that we are still living in a world where people face violence and even death simply on the basis of who they choose to love,” said the letter.

“Of course, systemic hatred of whole communities of people goes beyond homophobia, and let’s not forget this was a racialised community; a club night headlined by black latina drag queens. In the wake of this atrocity, it has been additionally distressing to see various far-right commentators attempt to equate the killings with Islam, and in doing so fan the flames of Islamophobia.”

Following the shootings on Sunday, Trump also attacked Barack Obama for not mentioning the words “radical Islam” during his address to the nation and urged the “disgraceful” President to resign immediately.

“I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct any more,” the billionaire added, later tweeting that “Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough.”

Hitting back yesterday, Maryam Amjad, a signatory from women’s group Chayn, said her belief in Islam was not relevant to her sexuality.

“As an immigrant British queer Muslim woman of colour, I have had my fair share of identity crises with my faith and my sexuality and my nationality and anything else that you can throw at me,” she said. “What I have realised very quickly is that my faith in Islam doesn’t hold any relevance to my sexuality. The violence we face against the queer community is not because of Islam, or even Christianity or any religion but a result of the toxic masculinity that we grow up in, and is reinforced by society. That’s what we need to change.”

Burn told The National that he signed the letter as he was angry that the attack was being used to attack Muslims – people from another minority.

“What happened in Orlando was so appalling, and for it to be immediately pounced on by those who have such a reactionary agenda was terrifying,” he said.

Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said: “The Orlando tragedy is a reminder of the hatred that LGBTI+ people all too often face and the prejudice against Muslims being stoked by racist right-wing politicians such as Donald Trump. Scotland has come a long way in recognising the importance of equality in society, and I hope the messages of support so many Scots have sent to Florida provide some comfort at this distressing time.

“Those who automatically connect acts of violence with Islam are insulting the vast majority of Muslims who condemn such acts. In light of Orlando, politicians and communities around the world must focus on creating real equality and tolerance in society.”


Letters I: Orlando killings must not be used to demonise