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Bjørn Ihler
Christopher Penler/Shutterstock.com

Statement of Extremely Together following the attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando

It is with heavy hearts that we received the news of the mass shooting in Orlando. Our thoughts are with the victims, with their families and their friends and the entire LGBT community. We stand with those who survived, the wounded and the traumatised, they have a challenging time ahead – finding the way back to life, from the brink of death is something far too many of us have had to do. And we stand in support of America, and hope the country will respond with solidarity and unity towards those attacked and towards the values America holds dear.

The Orlando attack targeting the LGBT community was the latest of a string of violent acts with extremist underpinnings: Citizens in Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Damascus, Idlib, and Beirut too have had to endure acts of violent extremism just these past 7 days. Many of these attacks are carried out by young people just like us. We must unite to show all young people an alternative to hate, exclusion and ultimately violence.

At Extremely Together, we know this better than most – some of us have survived massacres and attacks not so different from what happened in Orlando and the many other cities – we know there is a path back to life for those who have faced death. All of us are devoted, through our work, around the world to spread the notion that we are all worthy of life – a notion denied by extremists, who deny the right of existence to those who are different from them, and those who dare disagree with them, young people like us.. Yet we stand firmly against hate, terror and violent extremism and ask other young people around the world to join us.

The unity that can be found in embracing diversity is our message, in defiance of hate, of violence and extremism. Knowing our differences, our diversity, in beliefs and approach to making this world a more peaceful place is what makes us stronger. Ultimately, there is so much more that binds us together than what separates us.

Bjørn Ihler and Extremely Together