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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. JimmyNelson

    Religion is a curse on mankind!

    July 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • 1alan1

      I agree 100%. It will take an atheist to solve the religion problem on this planet.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  2. Erik

    Thousands of years of "evolution" and humans still use religion as an excuse to do things that go agaisnt our own Nature..Killing....Judaism was used to kill...Chrstianity was used to kill...now Islam is being used to kill...and we all accept this....incredible that sooooooo many people (idiots I should say) accept the argument "My God is Better than Yours" to.........KILL...."Why did you kill that child"...Because he´s Muslim.....Why did you kill that Woman??..." Because she´s Christian....you know what???....The devil must be laughing his ass off!!!!!...and many of the posts here prove just that.....sorry if I have offended anyone.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  3. Nadoush

    Humans are backwarded, if they dont fight with someone, they will fight with their own shadow,
    their evil

    July 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • HUH

      You realize you are talking about yourself. Duh.....

      July 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  4. Ed

    This is the fact. The majority of every bombing attack in the world today has some kind of Islamic connection to it. That's the cold, hard reality. When the rare exception occurs where it is not an individual of Islamic descent, that is still one attack out of hundreds (thousands)??

    It is "normal" to believe that Islamic fundamentalists will always be the FIRST group that comes to mind when an attack of any kind is done on this level. You can thank your Muslim "brothers" for that, even though the majority of Muslims are peaceful and non-violent. The middle-east contributes to that kind of mentality by not doing enough to crack down on those extreme fundamentalists. Think Osama Bin Laden shacking up right next to a Pakistani military facility without reprisal.

    What happened in Norway is horrible, and the individual should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. I'm sure there were warning signs beyond the purchase of huge amounts of explosive fertilizer that should have been investigated further. But make no rush to conclusion here. A non-muslim "terrorist" is still a rarity when compared to what their muslim counterparts do in the big picture, and will continue to be that way.

    The media of course jumped on the muslim bandwagon in the beginning, as they usually do, and their "shock" when it was determined a white-guy did it.

    Guess what? It will always be that way. You know it, I know it, and everyone else know it.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • LeJebly

      Or maybe you're just too used to only hearing about attacks carried out by muslims and not the other way around?

      July 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  5. Nadoush

    @Joe
    if you nuke the middle east who will you invade and kill in the name of so called
    illusion of democracy eh

    July 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  6. LeJebly

    Let me remind every one:

    The worst terrorist in history was white. Any one remember Gavrilo Princip? From the Black Hand (a Serbian terrorist organization)? The one who assassinated Franz Ferdinand? The one who started World War I?

    July 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  7. Iceman

    @Nobel9
    Very true. However, the scriptures you referenced are Jesus' warning of our need to be on our guard and alert for spiritual warfare not physical warfare. No where in the Bible does Jesus encourage a physical warfare or his followers to wage warfare, but only spiritual warfare.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  8. tokyomom

    IReligion should be a personal and private philosophy and means of worship instead of an extreme fear inducing way of life. So many wars, so many young children abused, so many lives lost – all because of organized religion that has spiraled out of control, often padding the pockets of it's leaders and stifling the voices of those who fear ostracism and punishment. Extremist Muslims and extremist Christians are both, in a way, victims of the very worst of organized faith.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  9. Joakim

    It should be included in this article that before the perpetrator was known, several Islamic fundamentalist web-sites posted threats towards norway telling them to remove their forces from Afghanistan and the likes, otherwise more blood would be spilled in Norway. There even were a terrorist organization taking credit for the attack. Thus, an Islamic fundamentalist attack on norway is not unlikely.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  10. joe hill

    We should just nuke the entire middle east...hahaha damn rag headst

    July 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  11. Scott Samson

    @ Mycology: How about Ami Popper or Baruch Goldstein? That guy blew away 20 plus Muslims while they were praying. Even the Chosen breed psychos.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  12. Nadoush

    @hi
    It take two to tango

    July 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  13. Kristian V

    In reply to: bearwalker
    "well KRISTIANV then i hope you will stay happy converting to islam,unless you have allredy."

    I will not dignify bigotry like that with a response.

    In reply to: Sylvia Wilde
    "I feel that your message is missing in places like Iran and Afghanistan. Would you be willing to put your principles on the line and travel to those places to spread your wisdom?"

    Do not think that I don't know the world is a very imperfect place. I just don't believe that it is possible to spread any kind of wisdom backed by a gun. Not that it matters – I do what I can in my situation and in my life.

    In reply to: angela
    "Breivik never said that he is Christian in his manifesto! As a matter of a fact, he said he's not even religious! He is neither Christian nor religious. He is an extremist anti-multiculturalist who believes Islam is threatening European values and I agree with him. I don't support his call to violence. If you know true Christianity, you'll realize that Jesus never taught violence to his followers!"

    That is simply not true. The murderer har explicitly stated that he is a christian, both in his manifesto and on his Facebook page, and considers himself to be a crusader for, and the saviour of, christian europe. I am not a believer, but I am familiar with the teachings of Jesus. What Breivik believes has very little to do with christianity as I know it, just as jihadism has very little to do with islam as I know it. Consider the anger you feel when someone claiming to be championing your religion and your cause does something like this. Now you know how the vast majority of muslims worldwide feels about jihadism.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  14. Jake

    Just briefly. The Norwegian is a terrorist in ANY religion. Oxygen Thief and waste of Flesh and need to be executed for his crime as soon as he is water-boarded to near death to disclose any accomplices.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  15. hi

    Yes, the bombing in 1995 and in Norway 2011 the men where white christians... EVERYTHING else in between they were muslims!

    July 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Kristian V

      Not true. Take a look at acts of terrorism in europe in 2009. Less than 10% were done by jihadist terrorist. The rest were neo-nazi groups, separatists etc.

      I apologize for not having a source for the numbers, but they should be easily available.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  16. Nadoush

    Fuyuko blame your ignorance

    July 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  17. Iceman

    @Mycology

    "Jews / Israelis / Zionists do not commit crimes." So, refusing to let the Palestinians receive food and supplies from boats is not a crime?

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

      you're an idiot , ISRAEL sends the "palestinians" THOUSANDS OF TONS of aid per week,

      They are NOT starving ,to the contrary you idiot – they are the #8 most obese men on the planet, and the #3 most obese women on the planet.

      Their population has grown 12x inside Israel, and 8x in the west bank and gaza since 1948.

      You know nothing, and yet you come around and spew your propaganda (or the propaganda you've been fed), you are a shame – you are a detriment to truth, justice, and history without even knowing it.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Mycology

      oh – but heres what IS a crime – trying to breach a LEGAL (yes, its legal) Naval blockade in war time. Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction, Hamas runs the Gaza strip, Israel is at war with Hamas – the Blockade is legal.

      I understand Laws don't matter to you, but it matters to the children of Israel who are the prime target for islamic jihadist terrorists. or are their lives worth less because they're jews?

      July 25, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  18. Nadoush

    @theboys
    but they are in their own countries, your the one who invade them
    duh

    July 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • the boys

      Muslims start wars with their terrorism/jihad: the West will invade; do you think they will keep turning the other cheek. DUH??

      July 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  19. Concerned America

    it is simple...the debate is open, and our only concern is Islam as a danger to all nonbelievers. banthemosque dot com, and thereligionofpeace dot com to learn more. Otherwise, start preparing for Sharia in the workplace first, then the schools, then the entire government.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  20. Concerned America

    I am not christian, nor do I attend any church. I am non religious. I believe the whole notion of god is a dangerous notion.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
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About this blog

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.