USC professor: Orlando gunman may have used religion as reason for shooting

Published: Jun. 13, 2016 at 10:27 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The shooting in Orlando once again raised concerns about religion's role in how it may have motivated the actions of the gunman.

Even though there have been indications the shooter attempted to align himself with Islamic extremism and ISIS, it isn't clear yet whether other factors could have been involved.

University of South Carolina professor Hamid Khan is an expert on Islamic law. According to Khan, most Muslims see homosexuality as sinful. However, he said only a fraction of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims believe death can ever be considered an appropriate punishment. He also said extremists like the Orlando gunman in no way represent Islam as a whole.

"To contrast a day like yesterday, we also have to remember what happened on Friday when Americans buried Muhammad Ali and yet, the ripple effects of someone like Muhammad Ali are often lost when some violent perpetrator like this person yesterday who they committed," Khan said. "And the question is who really represents the faith?"

Khan said the gunman's history suggests he wasn't especially active as a practicing Muslim.

In fact, Khan believes it is more likely the shooter used Islam as an excuse to carry out a hate crime.

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