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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. Jake

    Well, That's the second time I tried to post here only to have it 'disappear' after hitting the POST label. No cursing, (nothing compared to the viciousness of a lot of posts here!) ?? If comments are not pre-screened before they post as stated, then how would any post be deleted even before it was posted? THIS is why people double-post and sometimes post unrelated, idiotic statements on this site! Well...OK..Some ARE IDIOTS but only THEY really know. So.. Which finger am I holding up?

    July 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  2. Nadoush

    Blame the media fascism and those fascists who are in disguise
    Blame those who work undercover for the zionist
    Terrorism was created by crusaders and zionists
    The media always eager to point fingers on muslims
    FASCISM IS ALIVE
    Muslims are defending their lives their culture and Religion
    Those who stand up for the fascist wars on muslims are not terrorist but FREEDOM FIGHTER
    get it

    July 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • the boys

      So, let them defend in their OWN countries; don't come to foreign lands and cause troubles, like they do. Blend into society; don't try to force other people into your warped ways of life.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      Meh. Blame everyone but muslims for problems. Check. Got it.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Mycology

      I love that brain dead islamists hate zionists, it makes me feel so proud to be one – just like MLK Jr, and Jesus Christ.

      You hate us because we are a threat to your tyrannical, evil, barbaric way of life. We will fight islam and your unholy sharia law until we purge you from our countries.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  3. Buddy R

    Anti-theists need to resort to lies to attack Christianity and have no moral scruples in doing so. A person who has the slightest clues about what Jesus taught clearly knows the man is not a follower of Jesus Christ. Not everyone who claims to follow Christ (to be a Christian) is in fact a follower of Christ.

    The man did not follow the teachings of Christ and is not a Christian according to the words of Jesus Christ. Jesus said if you do not follow his teachings you are not his. Period. In my opinion anyone who calls the man a Christian is either ignorant of the Bible or a willful liar.

    Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    1Jn 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    Jesus taught us to love everyone, even our enemies. Not to kill them. The Bible says anyone who claims to know God but who hates or murders is a liar.

    Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

    1Jn 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

    Mr article writer, according to the Bible the man who killed all those kids did not know God. He is a liar in calling himself a Christian. He hates people and he murders and he does not live according to the core teachings of Christianity.

    Mat 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
    Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
    Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Zaxxon

      Read Leviticus. Don't cherry pick your Bible.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Noble9

      Other Jesus quotes:

      “Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

      "Whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.”

      "I have come to cast fire upon the world."

      July 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Buddy R

      Christians are under the New Covenant. Christians are not authorized to punish any sinner for any sin. The Jews were authorized to punish sin within the borders of Israel. No New Testament verse authorizes any Christian to punish any sinner for any sin. If you claim it does quote the New Testament passage.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Buddy R

      @Noble9

      As always, anti-theists take verses out of context. They seem to have a deep burning need to lie about religion.

      Jesus taught his teachings would cause divisions because some people would be hostile to those who follow him. And certainly anti-theists prove him correct.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Noble9

      I am no anti-theist, I follow the Gods of my ancestors. Yeshua bin Yusef (Jesus) was a little brown man in a faraway desert...his followers tortured and killed my people to force them to convert to their foreign god.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  4. edwin c.

    To correct everyone : the killer was not Christian , because to be Christian it means to be a follower of Christ and his teachings. He was just used by the devil , just like the other terrorist groups to make us hate eachother. Anyone that doesnt do what mour God Jesus told us, then is not a Christian but another unsaves person. Jesus came to save us and there is only salvation in Him.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  5. Unbeliever

    So are you saying that Christians deserve a pass? The only difference I really see here is that Christians aren't out dancing in the streets celebrating this guy. Which is a pretty big deal really and I will give props to them for that. That fact is that you can still use the bible to justify evil acts.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  6. Ida

    One evil meaning, in an ocean of good faith
    If we only knew before it was to late,
    we will always remember, but we will overcome,
    the hatred from the devils man with a gun,
    Cause at the end of the night, the sun will always rise,
    and when it does we'll stand together you and I,

    We'll hold hands for survivors, we'll hold hands for those we lost,
    we'll unite as we always have fought,
    to all of you haters, your devil's quest has failed,
    because the world has never united as today.
    We will raise our flags and we will march for peace,
    Until every evil nazi is at ease.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  7. Abdulkadir

    I disagree on what some of you guys are saying because is not just a religion but is a way of life and when the Quran talks about war and the rules of war and its not talking to everybody but the Quran is talking to the Islamic state if there's one and if there isnt one then these rules dont apply....i personally think Islamic war laws is better than the American war Laws which call itself a free state..Islam prohibits the killing of women, children, and tthe elderly and it prohibits the cutting of tree and torture...n if these so called islamists arent following these rules then they have their own agenda, nothing to do with islam

    July 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  8. Zaxxon

    Faith kills. Especially faith that has not been tempered by at least a small measure of reason and secularism. Wake up people. Knowledge and reason are the only hope this world has.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  9. Kat

    The religion of love, Crusades love, strikes again!

    July 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  10. me

    i blame muslims for everything including global warming. it's the only sensible thing to do.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Mycology

      You're joking, but the muslims will sincerely and honestly tell you the Jews are responsible.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  11. Nina Aaroe

    Please... please don't do this to us!

    July 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  12. SconnieGuz

    Muslims have been bombing places with cowardly terrorist tactics from the USA to London to Madrid to Russia to Indonesia to EVERYWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST to Somalia to fricken almost everywhere else..........yet we are supposed to not initially think that it's a muslim that does something like Norwary. Even muslims were on here initially thinking that it was a muslim. An islamic group made a claim on the bombing right off the bat (they were so proud, you know). Congrats muslims, you all have OWNED your reputation of psychotic, relgious freaks willing to kill anybody, anywhere through terrorism (doesn't even matter if it's other muslims). THEN YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO INDIRECTLY BASH THE WEST BECAUSE WE HAVE OUR GUARD UP. You people really think you're slick. Provoke EVERYBODY and then spread more hate about the West because our reactions aren't so nice to your BULLSH!T.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Brandon

      do u have any credible sources? if so link please

      July 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  13. truth

    if a Muslim were involved in this incident then all mead will start calling Muslim terrorist. He should called Christian Extremist and Christian Terrorist who kills 91 innocent people based of this stupid ideology, the same as Taliban have..

    July 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  14. Baruch

    When a Jew commits a crime like this they are a zionist and are secretly hailed by zionists as defending the jewish homeland. When a Muslim does something like this they are a crazed terrorist. When a Christian does something like this they are mentally ill.

    Anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

    July 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Mycology

      Jews / Israelis / Zionists do not commit crimes like this, if you want to try and portray the Israeli Defense Forces as being akin to this terrorist, you're an idiot with an OBVIOUS agenda and hate filled bias.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Iceman

      @Baruch
      A True Christian would not do anything like that/this (kill 92 individuals) Matthew 22:37-40.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      Sadly, crazed and bad members of all faith groups exist. Trying to pretend they do not is like fighting a rising tide. You will always lose.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  15. Mikey

    A Christian Terrorist from a Christian terrorist cell. Time for Norway to regroup

    July 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  16. Iceman

    @ hammerite
    you said: "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?

    So, based on this evidence that you spoke of, on which side does the Catholic Church fall on, True religion or False Religion?

    July 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • edwin c.

      False religion. If anyone reads the bible and understood why Jesus came and saved us, then they would never do such things. The true Christians were hiding and preaching the gospel while the catholic church was killing people.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      All religions are false. God is only what we can observed to be true by everyone, not by some prophet who must interpret his will to the masses.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  17. Mcelroy

    Sixteen years later, not much has changed? The WORLD has changed! I agree that we shouldn't unfairly target Muslims as the source of all the world's terrorism, but the author seems to ignore some rather huge world events... 9/11, the War on Terror, attacks in London, the FT Hood shooter...where does he think these stereotypes came from?

    July 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  18. Listen_to_the_People

    Here we go... Exactly what the Muslim Terrorist supporters were waitng for... One attack from a non-Muslim and now it is all about how "Muslims are so peaceful and they are not terrorits". "Islam is the religinon peace". Fact is that 99% of all terrorits attacks are from Muslim Extremists. This will continue to be the trend.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  19. bearwalker

    they blame muslems because there the ones who invented terrorism,they were bread and raised tho kill infidels,once a snake always a snake.and our governments are giving them all the time they need to prepair for there take over,how would it have changed the world if someone would have seen the rise of the nazis and did something about it.just a thought.SEMPER FI

    July 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  20. Zaphod01

    Oklahoma City...Fast forward to... Norway. Conveniently forgets WTC1, Khobar Towers,1998 Embassy bombings USS Cole, 9/11.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Noble9

      Not to mention Richard Reid, the underwear bomber, Mumbai, the DC Sniper, and the Fort Hood shootings...

      July 25, 2011 at 7:25 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.