On Sunday, June 12th, an American-born 29-year-old man, Omar Mateen, mercilessly carried out the deadliest terror attack in the US since 9/11. The culprit pledged allegiance to the radical terrorist group ISIS and targeted a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The attack terrorized the world and especially the LGBTI community who were celebrating gay pride month worldwide. Yet again, world peace was disturbed by violent extremism. However, yet again, leaders from around the world took to twitter to extend their condolences, offer advice and express their anger regarding the atrocity. Among them were many of the members of Club de Madrid; an organization made up of 112 former Presidents and Prime Ministers, democratically elected from 70 countries around the world.
Many of the members of the Club joined together to express their profound sadness and offer condolences to the victims and their families. An outpour of hashtags such as #OrlandoShooting, #SolidarityWithOrlando and #PulseShooting were used to convey solidarity as well as unity in a face of such terror. Here are some of those tweets:
My prayers are with the victims of this horrific act of hatred, their families, the emergency responders, and the people of #Orlando.
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) June 12, 2016
Violence against LGBTI people is unfortunately not a relic from the past. My thoughts go out to victims & their loved ones #OrlandoShooting
— Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt) June 12, 2016
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) June 13, 2016
Other politicians linked the attack to gun regulations or rather lack thereof and used their social media platform to either criticize or offer tangible advice regarding gun policy in the US. Although the investigation regarding the terror attack is still underway, it has been clarified by the police that the shooter obtained his semiautomatic handgun and the AR rifle legally from a gun shop, despite the fact that the FBI investigated Mateen twice for his potential ties to terrorism.
Club de Madrid member and former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón has been critical of US gun laws since he took office in 2006. During his presidency he fought hard to impose firearm restrictions in Mexico and called for collaborations between the two countries regarding gun violence. In the wake of the recent terror attack in Orlando, Calderón tweeted:
The United States must control assault weapons again. Otherwise massacres like #Orlando will happen frequently.
— Felipe Calderón (@FelipeCalderon) June 13, 2016
Another Club de Madrid member and an avid proponent of strict gun laws is Laura Chinchilla, former President of Costa Rica. During her presidency, she also fought to tighten gun laws in Costa Rica and was successful in reducing gun related violence. She twitted directly at the biggest gun lobby group in America, saying:
— Laura Chinchilla M (@Laura_Ch) June 13, 2016
And finally, Kim Campbell, another Club de Madrid member and the former Prime Minister of Canada, who has been instrumental in advocating for strict gun regulations in her country and introducing an improved screening process, expressed her frustration with US legislation, saying:
How about reinstating the assault weapons ban while you are at it? https://t.co/F9dIFG7eeR
— Kim Campbell (@AKimCampbell) June 14, 2016
The world has unfortunately become much too familiarized with attacks of such brutal nature. Such evil is hard to annihilate through mere policy changes; it requires of us methods of more innovative nature. To fight violent extremism we need new tools, such as education, social inclusion, counseling which together with other resources will produce a powerful counter narrative to that of ISIS. Furthermore, a successful counter narrative calls for all inclusive participation – from individuals to grassroots to governments.
In this framework lies Club de Madrid’s initiative aimed at informing and empowering stakeholders in the struggle against radicalization and violent extremism, titled Madrid +10. The initiative channeled the expertise of the Club’s members and produced the Global Consensus on preventing and countering violent extremism. Now more than ever it is imperative to join the efforts of Madrid 10+ which rest upon the 10 goals as highlighted in the Consensus, in order to collectively write the counter narrative that will one day destroy the violent extremist doctrine of ISIS that inspired the massacre of the innocent in Orlando.