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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.

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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. Dave

    SO ONLY 99% OF THE TERRORIST ARE ISLAM...
    PLEASE look at the numbers and don't give me a story after the 1% is happening!
    Also look at their growth numbers in Europe, and after that- Look at them and see what you are up against!

    July 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  2. ThePeteasso

    Right #blamethemuslims is definitely incorrect. It only represents a part of the problem. It would be more accurate if instead it was #blamereligion.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  3. Nadoush

    @ weird that you never imagine Mossade hands in all of this

    July 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  4. Nadoush

    @auggiddogy
    911 was an inside job, do your research please

    July 25, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  5. Auggiedoggy

    Did we all forget about 9/11, the TWA over Lockerbie, the PanAm flights, the bombing of the jets in the desert by Palestinians and that rat turd who led them all those years?? Did we forget about the Achille Laurel, Beirut bombing and murder of 200+ Marines and Sailors. Did we forget about the bus and subway bombings in England and Spain.... and who did all this? Muslims, age 18-50+. Should I keep going, and going, and going? Stop making excuses – this was a limited homeland style terrorist attack, just like Oklahoma City – the Islamo-Nazis are simply taking a long break!!! They'll be back soon enough to remind us of their intentions. Woof!

    July 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  6. Nadoush

    @mike
    do you belong to the NEO NAZI organization too, how could that be your hero idiot
    he killed so many innocent kids for just being an ignorant, racist well like you

    July 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Laura

      Nadoush,
      forget what Mike said. have you read excerpts from the "manifesto"? the guy is clearly insane, and i'm not sure why this aspect isn't being raised in the media.
      people that do these types of things in the name of religion or patriotism, they are criminally insane. the acts of a few lunatics do not reflect on the whole.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  7. mike

    Are you Fcuking kidding me!?!? Your defending islamic terrorists and muslims? This guy is my hero, he nailed it right on the money. We are being overrun, and political correctness is wiping out all of our traditions etc so the MUSLIMS dont get offended. Choke on it.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • ed

      right on, mike.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  8. Uncle Javi

    When you follow an imaginary and immoral person like Jesus, you just might kill some kids for him.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • mickey1313

      to true

      July 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  9. Nadoush

    @mycology
    Thank you same can be said about yours too

    July 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  10. 1alan1

    The problem is religion itself.
    If everyone in the world had a good education we wouldn't be having these problems.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  11. Nadoush

    @2cent
    He did it in the name of fascism, Racism, hatred towards muslims,
    He is a christian fanatic as well as freemason as well as a zionist spy
    now how could that be? well they do exist

    July 25, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Mycology

      lol... you're a joke nadoush, your culture is a joke, your "civilization" is a joke, and I can't wait till that black box of satan in mecca is turned into mulch for my yard.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • 2Cents

      .............This dude had mental issues THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION!

      He didn't go out "IN THE NAME OF GOD I'M GOING TO SHOOT EVERYONE!!!"

      July 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • mickey1313

      2cents, are you stupid. He said that his country was being overrun by muslems and leftists. So ya he definatly did it in the name of jebas. All hale the tetragramaton (YHVH) and all its evil power.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • 2Cents

      "He said that his country was being overrun by muslems and leftists"

      so..............that was his problem................

      If I'm a buddist I'll go out killing Christians does what mean it was a religious issue or a mental issue?

      July 25, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  12. 2Cents

    Idiots! He never did it in the name of Christianiy! Osama did it in the name Islam!

    CNN YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND GET A LIFE! IF HE DIDN'T PUT CHRISTIAN IN IT YOU SHOULDN'T EITHER!

    PS: Of course in the past the romans did honor killings in the name of christian, but his guy didn't even thou his personal profile is Christian.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Human

      Sorry, your rants are not worth 2 cents!

      July 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Mikey

      Now tell me man 🙂 how can someone do something in the name of Christianity or gayness? 🙂 or is it because you say the same thing to the Muslims and don't want to hear it about the Christians ?...What I see here is that a criminal is a criminal regardless of his religion or whatever he wears ...isn't it ??? or maybe I am wrong .. .. And you can't say a Muslim terrorist does crimes in the name of his religion (were you there and you asked him before he blows up a bomb or something ? ....and when a Christian terrorist does the same thing he is now a retarded man, an unstable person , fundamentalist and not a terrorist.....oh poor thing....well Jesus forgives his sins 🙂 even when he kills 92 ....he is in heaven 🙂 .........what a backward religion

      July 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Lydia

      Good job completely missing the point of the article. It's not about the fact that he's Christian but the fact that we should stop assuming that Muslims are the only people capable of terrorist acts when we know better.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • 2Cents

      Look @Lydia......People kill people everyday. Hes a "Christian" that killed people and he never said it was because of Jesus or God.

      The article #blamethemulisms puts the debate about 9/11 and this crazy dude. Osama did his attack in the name of Allah. NOT THIS GUY!!!!!
      This article is far off.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  13. Cass

    I remember that initially I was kind of positive on 9/11 because I thought it was revenge for the execution of Tim McVeigh. Only later did I discover to my profound horror that it was Islamic extremists who were behind it....

    July 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Well the government will be pleased you baught there story hook line and sinker. Because 9/11 is as much a muslem act as pearl harbor was.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  14. Mikey

    Norway was under attack by the All-KKK-duh Christian terrorism....True Christians are giving us glimpses of what they can do to spread love.....it's all about looooowwwwwwwwwvvvvVe baby 🙂 ....praise jesus...ole'loveya baby 🙂

    July 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Christianity has as much to do with love as the financial industry has our best interests at heart. Christianity is about 2000 years of dogma and hate.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  15. Frenchy

    Just remember: Religion doesn't kill people, people kill people.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Mikey

      Frenchy...it's all about looooove babyyyy 🙂

      July 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  16. Nadoush

    @Noble
    Not all christians are fascist but most of them

    July 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • ed

      Yeah, right. Most of them are fascists. Go to a church this Sunday and ask for a shirt or some food and I'm sure you'll walk out with. Fascists? You idiot.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  17. Aaron

    People obviously overreacted with blaming Muslims for the 2 terrorists attacks in 20 plus years that Islamic fanatics weren't responsible for.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  18. Noble9

    Not all terrorists are Muslim...just most of them.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • LibyanNina

      You just sound as full of hate as this stupid Norwegian guy.

      And of course, not all Muslims are terrorists, not even most of them. The terror by muslims come from individuals who organize themselves in a "wrong" way, I agree. terror from those who claim to believe in Christianity (with all respect to Christianity) comes from their governments, elected and supported by its people, to "legally" occupy muslim countries.

      Now who is the terrorist?

      July 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  19. Nadoush

    Humans are backwarded and evil
    I dont kill, I support Humanity as all
    I dont preach hate and murder for others
    That is not in my soul.
    capichco

    July 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  20. SconnieGuz

    Seriously religious people, if there is a God, what makes any of you think that he gives a damn what you think??? This is the same God that, theoretically, would be causing earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornados, hunger, suffering everywhere......yet he cares what you think??? If he is real, he is behind these things and enjoys watching all of us humans fighting each other over him and what he believes....real nice guy. Face it....you are a speck in the universe and if there is a God....he doesn't care what you think!!!! So stop killing each other over something nobody can prove and something that doesn't even make sense AT ALL!!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • sink

      Brother, God has put human beings (with brains) on earth for their test. As a reward they will get paradise or will be punished for his/her evils. Now why should God stop disease, war, hunger, poverty etc. It is all part of the test. Most of these things are created by human themselves despite of their brains and apprehension of good and bad.
      So I always get this argument from atheists that why God doesn't help poor, hungry or innocents. Come on, if God wanted to help them with these things then what is the point of making this world with all these things in it.
      The bottomline is "IT IS ALL PART OF TEST".

      July 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • JDinFLA

      If there was a God what makes you think for a moment you could comprehend him – understand God's plan and why you are free to kill or not kill.
      A God who created this universe yet wants fellowship with you is pretty amazing since you created nothing and are nothing apart from This God, if he existed lets say – all things being fair
      You got to be pretty cool if God wants to hang around with you.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Not to mention, that he has the power to end suffering and hate and pain, and he lets it continue. That is the very definition of a sadist. If (YHVH) is real, it certanly does not deserive worship or praise or thanks. It deserves our shunning and rejection.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Sink, your ignorance astounds me. You do know that in the triditions of all 3 big cults (chrstianity, jewism and ismal) that god is described as 1, all knowing, 2 all powerful, and 3, all loveing. It is fact that an all loveing god would not allow suffering. A god that allows suffering and could stop it cannot be all loveing, and if he could not stop it, he is not all powerful. Anyway you slice that, it is a being that deserves our scorn not our praise.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • sink

      @mickey1313: This is the problem. You think God is like human beings. He thinks the same way, he has the same emotions, he does the same things as humans do. If God was like human, he could never have made this universe whose magnitude a human cannot even imagine or comprehend.
      So do't say, God should do when seeing someone suffering what a good human being would do. God is way better than all the good human beings. You don't know what God has planned for that suffering fellow. May be he is being punished or may be he will be rewarded after his patience during the suffering.
      Now you would say why God should punish someone if He is Great and Kind. I say, why not, why shouldn't he? He is so powerful, yet, people abuse him in the face. He will definitely let such people know about his Powers in some way or other.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:15 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.