Pensacola shooter does not represent us, say Saudi citizens, officials

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A shooting at a US Navy base in Florida that resulted in the death and injury of several American citizens on Friday has garnered angry responses and condemnation from Saudi Arabian officials and citizens, after news spread that the perpetrator was a Saudi national.

The shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, a US Navy base in Florida, left four people including the shooter dead, and several others hospitalized with injuries.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz offered his condolences to the victims’ families in a phone call with US President Donald Trump on Friday.

Trump tweeted that during the phone call, King Salman stressed that the perpetrator’s actions do not represent the feelings of Saudi Arabians who “love the American people.”

Saudi Arabians also took to Twitter to condemn the attack and offer their condolences using the now-trending Arabic hashtag that translates to ‘The criminal in Florida does not represent us.’

The hashtag has now been used more than 60 thousand times.

The Dean of Faculty at Taif University Naif Althobaiti said he was “deeply saddened” by the shooting and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

Another Twitter user, Salman bin Hathleen, wrote that Saudi Arabians are using the hashtag to stand with Americans and prove that “this criminal act never represents the Saudis and doesn’t reflect the nature of the relationship between the two friendly peoples.”

Saudi Arabian officials also offered up messages of condemnation and condolences in a statement released by the Kingdom’s foreign ministry.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, describing the shooting as a “heinous crime,” said, “The Kingdom expresses its deepest condolences to the families of victims, and to the American people. We salute the bravery of those who neutralized the threat and saved lives.”

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir also condemned the shooting.

Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman, who received military training at a US base, also offered his condolences, and said that a number of Saudi military personnel end up working with American naval officers around the world upon completing their training.

The Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Abdullatef bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Alsheikh shared his condolences on Twitter, saying that the “crime does not represent us as Saudis.”

“This crime does not represent us as Saudis, we reject such criminal acts, and we sympathize with the injured and the families of the victims, it is a horrible crime and a dishonest act. We refuse crimes anywhere and anytime, and we stress our complete reject to such horrible criminal acts that Islam refuses,” he wrote.

Some Saudi Twitter users said they felt the Saudi character was more accurately demonstrated by two young Saudi Arabian students who drowned in July 2018 in the Chicopee River of Massachusetts while trying to rescue two children, saying that their heroism and willingness to sacrifice their lives to save strangers is a true representation of Saudi citizens.

Theeb Alyami, 27, and Jaser Daham Alrakah, 25, jumped into the river in attempt to save two children who were being swept away. Both men were studying civil engineering and were set to graduate in a few weeks when the incident took place.

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