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July 25th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

My Take: Norway attacks show why you can't #blamethemuslims

Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and Executive Director of the school's Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

In the immediate aftermath of 1995’s Oklahoma City bombing, much of the news media rushed to suggest that a Muslim, or at least a Middle Eastern connection, was behind the attack.

News reports on television and in print featured Middle East terrorism experts claiming the Oklahoma City attack echoed a World Trade Center bombing two years earlier and that it contained parallels to recent Mideast attacks.

The FBI picked up Ibrahim Ahmad, a Jordanian American, for questioning in an initial dragnet.

Does 'Christian fundamentalist' label fit Norway terror suspect?

Of course, it turned out that the attacker was homegrown and named Timothy McVeigh, not a Muslim.

Sixteen years later, not much has changed.

The tragic events that took place in Norway on Friday provoked initial accusations against Muslims worldwide. Of course, that proved to be the farthest thing from the truth.

Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed bomber and shooter in this horrendous act, was not motivated by the teachings of Islam, but by the teachings of those who oppose Islam.

A 1,500-page manifesto that appears to be written by Breivik is an anti-Islamic tirade.

Who is Anders Behring Breivik?

“Since the creation of Islam in the 7th century and to up to this day, the Islamic Jihad has systematically killed more than 300 million non Muslims and tortured and enslaved more than 500 million individuals,” it says.

“Since 9/11 2001, more than 12, 000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred,” it continues. “… This trend will continue as long as there are non-Muslim targets available and as long as Islam continues to exist.”

An inappropriate response to Norway’s acts of violence would be the condemnation of Christianity, or a claim that religion itself breeds violence and hatred, though the manifesto repeatedly invokes the defense of Christianity as a primary reason for violently defeating multiculturalism and combating the “Islamic colonization” of Europe.

The expectation shouldn't be that white Christian males should now be scrutinized at airports or profiled by TSA workers. It's wrong when it happens to Muslims and it would be just as wrong if it happened to anyone else.

A more appropriate response would be to expand the conversation around terrorism and violent extremism beyond Islam and the Muslim community. The Norway attacks highlight why congressional hearings should not be held on solely on radicalization in the Muslim community, but should focus on radicalization more broadly.

Far right makes comeback in Europe

It's also imperative that training for law enforcement and other governmental offices on Islamic doctrine and law not to be conducted by those who present the normative understanding of Islam to be something that is radical. Our focus should be the safety of all citizens in any country from every act of violence or terrorism.

By cultivating a narrative that says Islam is the problem, we keep ourselves from maintaining that focus. All terrorist acts stem from an idea that it's OK to resort to violence in order to get what you want; that it's OK to kill to get the kind of world that you would like; that if we disagree, we cannot co-exist peacefully.

Over the weekend, #blamethemuslims became a trending topic on Twitter. The purpose of the hashtag was not to blame Muslims for the Norway attack, but show how Muslims are unfairly blamed and singled out regularly these days. The tragic events in Norway remind us that not all terrorists are Muslim and there is no reason that all Muslims should be treated like they are.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Norway. May God make things easy for them and grant us all the strength and courage to stand up against those who preach intolerance and hatred, even if they look like us, align politically with us, or practice the same religion we practice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khalid Latif.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Interfaith issues • Islam • Opinion • Terrorism

soundoff (2,486 Responses)
  1. Texapaso

    Marie,
    US do not get up with sole motivations to kill any innocent civilians..If that is what we want to do, we do not even have to leave our soil to do that..We can reach any inch of this world without setting foot there, without the need to endanger our own soldiers. Wake up and smell the roses! There is not war where innocent people do not die....but they are not intentionally targeted as the radical Muslims do. By the way, they should stop hiding among civilians as Osama was doing...be real man..do not sneak from behind civilians...they do it for gullible like yourself, so that when civilians get hurst...then you have a lulaby.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  2. Mark

    Muslim Terrorists...

    Yep, if the shoe fits...WEAR IT!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  3. Sagebrush Shorty

    Since the vast majority of terrorist acts are committed by Muslims especially against other Muslims, how can we not continue to blame them? I don't see Jehova's Witnesses or the Catholic church hanging 8 year olds. So as long as Islam continues to commit these acts, I for one will continue to blame them.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • hammerite

      No, the Catholic church doesn't hang 8 year old boys, that's a waste of young boy in thier minds. BTW the Catholic church was responsible for the inquisition, that is/was a terrorist act of sorts was it not, or is torturing innocent people ok as long as it's in the name of your personal branded invisible boogeyman?

      July 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  4. Justin Observation

    The brainwashed sacrificial soldier children from the "Jesus Camps" around the world, are becoming grown ups.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Sunfighter

    Considering the Western world IS AT WAR with Islam and Islam IS AT WAR with the west, Its only logical to blame attacks on their enemies. This was just one of the RARE cases where Islam wasnt behind an attack on the west. Im sure everytime a bomb went off in the UK during world war 2, their first thought was always "the germans!" this wasnt the case in every example, but its LOGICAL....the same applies here when thinking about an attack on a western nation.

    So get off your soapbox muslims. you have deserved every stereotype thrown at you.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Chris

      There have been smaller attacks perhaps the US news hasn't reported but read foreign papers and dig a bit. I just went to a lecture this spring regarding this and the presenter had just moved from Norway. Sterotypes by the mere definition of the word shouldn't be used to justify anything. We have to stop condeming and sterotyping a whole group of people or religions by the acts of radical ones.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  6. Eva from Norway

    we must not let them to take over our lifes... dont you understand? US is the country in the world that has experienced the least amount of terror...and yet you are the country that use terror your selves 😦

    July 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • KBinMN

      But how could such an act have taken place in Norway? They have none of the social ills that the rest of the world accuses the US of having.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  7. Varun

    Bloody Nordic neandarthal.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  8. kokokaka

    mycology.slowly people around the world started to see for them selves that israel the so called only democracy in the mid east is practicing state terrorism.no doubt in my mind and millions around the world it's self destruction started with your favorite son rupert murduch and family ,this is how you gona be exposed to the world and you gona ruin your selves.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Mycology

      what you believe is happening is just a delusion, the world stands with Israel against islam and sharia. Just because you and your Jihadi buddies agree "ya-lalalalalalalalala!!! Israel must be destroyed!!!!" doesn't mean you are competent enough to accomplish it, on the contrary , you are far from it and your previous attempts even when Israel was a newborn state FAILED MISERABLY.

      If you think you can take on a modern state of Israel, lol, I hope you try so Israel has a reason to finally wipe you Jihadi pukes off the face of the earth. enjoy your virgins (lol)

      July 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  9. The Truth

    My religion can beat up your religion....religion is the problem...all of them...get rid of them all and accept the fact that we are going to die and there is nothing after death....religion divides people, countries, brothers, sisters.....religion is the idiot...

    July 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • TampaMan

      Simple. Too simple.

      You cannot bury your head in the sand of atheism and hope the (religious) problem will go away. It won't. The only thing you'll accomplish is that you'll get sand in your eyes and ears.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Iceman

      @The Truth
      you said: "religion is the problem...all of them...get rid of them all and accept the fact that we are going to die and there is nothing after death....religion divides people, countries, brothers, sisters.....religion is the idiot...

      Correction: False Religion is the problem, Misapplication of scripture results in a person becoming an idiot and causing harm to others. False Religion can be discovered when their own church leaders do not condemn these bad acts of their followers.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Hammer

      Religion (an inanimate thing/concept) cannot be an "idiot"... Only people can be idiots... So religion is NOT the problem... people are the problem. Blind obedience to a faith, any faith, that ignores the restraints contained in that faith (e.g. Christian: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"... "Love thy enemy and pray for those who spitefully use you".... Islam: "That whoever kills a single soul for other than a soul (killed) or for corruption in the earth, it is as though he had killed all of humanity together, and whoever saves the life of a single soul, it is as though he had save the life of all of humanity together...")... So if some idiot like Bin Laden or an idiot like Anders Breivik comes to the conclusion that they are preserving their faith by killing people of the other faith (and then ironically kills people of the faith that they espouse)... That merely show what idiots that they and others like them really are. To a certain extent we are all pretty ignorant and should be super humble when sharing our faith (or atheism). Accept the fact that we are all on our individual journeys with no road back, only forward, and which no one else can truly share. If towards God, then wonderful, we will perhaps meet at the end. If not God, then does it really matter? People who act in anger are quite prone to become tools and purveyors of the idiocy practiced by Bin Laden and Anders Breivek. Beware "teachers" who teach you to act out of anger... They would make you tools of their anger and are tools themselves. So perhaps what we can all agree on is that "Extremists views are held and practiced by idiots... Don't be an idiot!"

      July 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  10. Seth Hill

    I followed all the news and blogs right after the Norway killings ... the news media did not rush to blame muslims. Latif just made that up.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Chris

      Really? where are you from because right away I heard theories regarding Muslims (I'm here in NYC).

      July 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Did you even read or watch the news. The first thing out of the media about the story is the name Al Qaeda. Rush to judge!

      July 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  11. wgage

    “Since 9/11 2001, more than 12, 000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred,”
    Says it all.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • nc

      Yes, but most in Muslim countries, and most of the victims were in fact Muslim. (Conveniently omitted in the previous post).

      July 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Concerned America

      every terror attack by a muslim is that much closer to the US. They kill indiscriminently, as we have seen, and the target is on our backs. END SHARIA banthemosque in America. October 31, 2011

      July 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  12. Eva from Norway

    religions is dangoureses...why not just live? Live and enjoy everything on this earth? Does it matter how it came here? no one knows anyhow.... enjoy life while you live!!! 🙂

    July 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • unbeliever

      you could not have said it better. where do I meet you?

      July 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  13. Concerned America

    i DO NOT LISTEN TO lIMBAUGH, NOR AM i INFLUENCED BY fOX nEWS, OR EVEN cnn. i AM NOT CONSERVATIVE. i SIMPLY TOOK A LONG LOOK AT iSLAM. i DISCOVERED NOTHING NEW. tHE QURAN IS DANGEROUS. iSLAM IS DANGEROUS.
    Those who defend Islam either do not understand, or intend to fight for this religious freedom. If I truly had my way, I would ban all religion first, because I do not think religion is necessary, or helpful to most. I do not believe in god. I do not have ulterior motives. I simply read and studied.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • skinnymulligan

      You mo'....the Quaran, Torah and Bible are all the same book essentially. Are you a moron? I withdraw the question.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • 4ureyesonly

      ur gravestone would say " Here lies an Aethiest, all dressed up but no place to go"

      July 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tt

      You are an idiot.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • TampaMan

      Wishing religion away will not solve political problems. Claiming there is no God will not cause religious folk to get up off their knees and say "what a mistake I made." Spitting in the wind will not erase evidence of the Almighty or stop the argument one atom.

      It will only prove you're a fool; wishing for God to go away, yelling at those who believe, and mocking those who have something to live and die for.

      What would YOU die for? Anything? Nothing? Something?

      July 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Concerned America

      My personal beilief is of zero consequence here. ISLAM, IS DANGEROUS. Dispute that.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  14. Nick Rymond

    CONCERNED AMERICAN IS A RACIST

    July 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Concerned America

      Not true at all. I am, however, anti terror, and anti Islam.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Robert

      He is not a racist. His bigotry crosses racial lines.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Mycology

      God bless you concerned American, we must protect our country, our civilization, and our communities from Shari'a law. Let islam fester in its own countries. Ours is a Christian country and I want it to STAY that way (and by the way, i'm Jewish).

      July 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Concerned America

      i do not think we should be a christian, jewish, muslim, or any religious or finge religious country. Our laws are really based on logic, and ethics. God needs to be killed, done away with if you will. Adding god to any political proposition is a mistake. Bottom line here is this ISLAM IS DANGEROUS. (fact) That is what we are concerned with in this website, and for this requested legislation. We cant take on everyone, so we took on what we feel is the most pressing, and growing issue in the US....Islam.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Robert

      Putting the word 'fact' in parenthesis after something doesn't actually make it a fact.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  15. Texapaso

    Joelli,
    You can say all you want, we can call this terrorism or not, it does not change the fact the 99.99% of intentional mass killings of innocent civilian in our time, in this time in age are committed by Islamic radicals!!!!
    Any Christian fundamentalist who kills like this Pig did, his own fellow Christians will hunt him down, catch him and put him to jsutice...Not like Muslims who hide their killers of innocent civilian....Remeber Osama hidden by Pakistan all this years and we had to do it....by hiding your killers of innocent then you approve of their actions so blame yourself no none Muslims.
    Also because being a none Muslim I am a fare game for your fundamentalists, I do not need to prove anything to you, but rather you should prove to me that you are not a fundamentalist coming after me...Simple and period!

    July 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Power Ranger

      I agree 100%

      July 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • JTau

      99.99%......?
      citation please.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Walter

      Even if the oft cited 12,000 attacks by Muslim extremists were used here 99.99% means that only 1.2 attacks were made in the same time by all other groups...I doubt your numbers.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Marie from Norway

      Most killings of innocent people in our time happen in wars. In which most of them, USA is involved. You people are too filled with anger and violence!

      July 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Texapaso

      Jtau,
      The Sun is up today.....Citation?...oh well..!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • David

      Looks like to me that your thinking is just as radical as that of the Muslims you claim are after you.

      I am completely amazed how people soak up crap and spew it back at others as fact. It seems less likely that people care about fact as much as they do fiction and will not even bother to research their own information. If any of you care at all about yourselves, your family, your community, your country, etc... Then you owe it to each of those you care about to understand what you are saying. You also owe it to yourself so that when you do open your mouth, the first thing that comes out isn't the foot you seem to fervently intent on putting there each time you speak.

      Muslims are not the problem. Christians are not the problem. People who cannot and/or will not bother to educate themselves and therefore become fanatics/radicals are the problem. If you want to blame someone, blame man as a whole, because man has failed in his ability to use that which separates us from wild animals: the ability to reason. And opposable thumbs.

      But if you continue shouting stupidity, chances are you will indeed meet the fate you claim to want to avoid. Not by terrorists of some religion, but by those of us tired of talking heads and ready for reason and logic. Not because any of us in the logical world would kill, but because we'll ignore. And we all know those with big mouths and little brains hate being ignored. So eventually heads will explode because they don't understand why no one will listen to their ignorance and utter stupidity.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  16. AvdBerg

    A number of people that have written to respond to this article have spoken of the interpretation of the Bible, which is the number one problem in this present world as the Bible itself teaches us that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). Only few people (Matthew 7:14) are able to understand the Bible and as long as mankind remains separated from God, the Word of God will remain a mystery.

    Mankind in his natural state is unable to understand the Bible and unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

    There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). The only thing that separates the Natural body from the Spiritual body is the Baptism of Repentance (Mark 1:4). To repent means: to change spirits and to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan, whose spirit mankind is of (Luke 9:55), unto God (Acts 26:18). This is not an interpretation. Many people search the Bible for in them they think they have eternal life, but when we bring them the Scriptures they don’t believe us (John 5:38,39). Confused? There is no need to be confused any longer. For a better understanding of the mystery of God we invite you to read all the pages and articles of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    So, before mankind will be able to understand the Word of God, mankind requires to be converted and transformed by God (not by any religion) and only then mankind is able to understand the Bible, as it is God (John 1:1).

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    July 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  17. skinnymulligan

    Amy Whinehouse is Jewish by the way.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • TampaMan

      Not any more !

      July 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  18. Dave H

    Every church in America is a terrorist training camp. Christians will be doing the same thing in America soon. And like Americas 2 wars,it will all be in the name of Jesus. Christians are so scary!

    July 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • skinnymulligan

      Christians will be doing it soon in the U.S.???????Try Always. Who brought the slaves over here-Christians. Who slaughtered the native Americans here?-Christians. Who fought the blodiest civil war ever.Christians. Who set off the bombs in Oklahoma city, The olympics, at abortion clinics...who shoots abortion doctors in their homes, their churches???? Who revolted against the fereral gov in Waco??? AT ruby ridge??? Who invaded Korea, Vietnam....These are already the works of our American Christian terrorist.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Iceman

      @you said "every church in America is a terrorist training camp."

      How do you know? Have you been to visit every church in America? Your statement is False. Do yourself a favor: Investigate first, then make a sound conclusion based on the evidence. All are not terrorist training camps.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Taylor

      I go to church on a regular bases. I call myself a Christian but admit my faith is often shaky. I love the People I go to church with they are great people. I have lived in many places and been to many churches and loved all These people. My only complaint about them is that they are so nice And accepting of everyone else that their too weak to fight when necessary And could be easily taken advantage of and victimized. I have not met aChristian other than myself that is willing to fight, let alone terrorize.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  19. Eva from Norway

    I see something got lost, but what the... we must take care of each other everyone... 🙂

    July 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • kokokaka

      sorry eva.my heart goes out to the victims and their families .i swaer to god iam american and i met the most wonderful beautiful norweigan people on a trip they were so nice and so happy i was telling my self and friends it's too good to be true this is how nice they were.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  20. HK

    In Principle, every one taking up active terrorism chooses a reason or blame somebody.... to destroy the lives of innocent people which part of the globe one may be. Not sure if anyone has achieved anything so far. I am giving myself a reason to ignore and say "DON'T TROUBLE TROUBLE, UNLESS TROUBLE TROUBLES YOU"

    July 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.