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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. amust

    terrorism was not started by Islam or Muslims. People of all faith including christianity, catholics, hindus, jews, buddhist have acted act of terror in the past. Terrorism in not invented by one religion or practiced by the masses of any religion, rather it is an escape used by people who see defeat. Terrorism will end one day INSHALLAH, and Islam will prevail.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Bill C

      Nonsense. Show some facts to back up your hyperbole. The overwhelming majority of terrorist acts have been committed by Muslims. Might I remind you that if you wrote this piece in a country governed by Sharia law, and blamed Muslims for any terrorist acts, you could be killed. Learn the truth.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  2. Jake

    You should have seen all the Muslims crying at my school when Osama bin Laden died. I have never seen Christians get upset when a Christian-based terrorist dies.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Muslim-American

      You are Incompetent.... If you dare think anyone of us... would Cry for the MAN that Demonized our religon.... He made us look BAD... Cry for him? NO

      July 25, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • lk

      You Right !!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Robrob

      B.S.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  3. GM

    anyone whose criticism of Islam has gained traction is either dead, in hiding or under 24/7 protection – enough said

    July 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Nadoush

      Hmmm, a coward

      July 25, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • GM

      @Nadoush

      hmmm a terrorist

      July 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Kentucky

      GM, yall are an idiot... yall need to go bak to ya der farm and go keel yourself. Derp Derp Derp

      July 25, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Robrob

      Bull Pucky.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  4. Beatrice

    This incident will shut up naive Europeans' hate rhetoric against Americans.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  5. Dare think different

    I am also surprised at the stupidity of this article! The author has chosen Oklahoma bombings and Norway incident whereas he could have chosen the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Bosnia! That one mega terrorist act killed more innocent Muslims than all the terrotist acts put together.

    Finatical Muslims = bus and sub way bombings.
    Finatical Christians -= Ethnic Cleansing

    Which is a greater threat?

    July 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Nadoush

      If you have nothing to say, please shut up

      July 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Will

      Q: Are their Muslim Terriosts?
      A: Yes... Osama Bin Ladin

      Q: Are their Christain Terriosts?
      A: Yes... the KKK

      Q: Are their Jewish Terriosts?
      A: Yes... the IDF ( Isreali Defense Force)

      Just Sayin

      July 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Ray Thomas

      How stupid are you?? What about Turkish genocide of Armenians and Greeks, what about the Muslim genocide of Assyrians, the constant abuse of Christian minorities like the Copts? What about Muslim genocide and ethnic cleansing in Nigeria? What about the child-killers in Chechnya? What about the many genocides and cases of ethnic cleansing by the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic Empire, the Moors in Spain? Open a book.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  6. Inst7

    There' no such thing as christian terrorist group. and I doubt Anders shouted God's name or Jesus when he killed his victims.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • 17 Year Old Muslim Living in Miami

      Have you read his 1,500 page rambling paper..... No? then go read it...

      July 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • ssj9001

      gunpowder plot, Orange Volunteers, NFLT, MNCA, and the early kkk

      July 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • syd

      KKK, IRA, etc. etc.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  7. Nadoush

    @RAy
    Your an ignorant and a bigot too
    Propoganda is you kind
    what a stupid sad people you are

    July 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Ray Thomas

      Yeah I am aware of what you Muslims think about us when you say "you people." You've showed it over and over again with your incessant and monstrous hatred for everything non-Muslim.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • syd

      Keep on saying that Ray. Nadoush, ignore him, he's probably an old bloke who just figured out how to use the computer and has nothing better to do. No need to worry about guys like him. Remember, we'll all find out in the end, when it truly counts =)

      July 25, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  8. rahlow

    Read the history about man in its quest to conquer point made. This guy made a point less point that the world has sociopath among us in the world. The blame game once again he blamed the muslims and they was'nt there . Norwegian are to soft on crime like this 21 years max in America death by leathal injestion especially in Texas

    July 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  9. 17 Year Old Muslim Living in Miami

    You People are missing the purpose of this article.... Do you ignorant people really believe that ALL Muslims are terriost's? Have you guys been watching too much FOX NEWS.... I am 17 year Old Muslim... Do i practice Sharia Law... NO.... Do i want to Kill People .... I Couldnt hurt a Fly... Do i hate Christains and Jews... NO

    You People dont understand.. that MOST muslims are peacefull, loving people... STEREOTYPING A WHOLE RELIGON ON LESS THAN 0.5% OF THE TOTAL POPULATION IS BS....

    Now that we have exposed the radicals of Islam.... Let me REITERATE... There are terriosts in ALL RELIGONS... What is the KKK? Huh? arent they a Christain Terriost Organization?....

    Point is:

    Most of us Muslims are Normal.... We are just like you.... However when you demonize us... we feel resentment... and it hurts when your own country you were born hates you.... you feel like an alien in your own country...

    July 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • rahlow

      You right man !!!! the first to do it in america The first Klan was founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, as a terrorist organization.
      first victim of terrorism were blacks right here in america. Let get some order right . You do the math.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Alex

      Thats it. Great comment. Kinda how we got a taste of after this bombing.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Lover

      @ someone who nickname is 17 Year Old Muslim Living in Miami: You only Mulsim in citizenship pnly? Have you ever read Quran? If you really really really really read Quran and HAdist, you will find a order to kill infidels. This is called "JIhad". For now, You cleric will tell you some basic to avoid yourself hate Islam. With time, he will teach it, the way of terror! I strongly tell you to read Quran and Hadist! If you find somewhat hatred, its up to you! Just before you swallow your cleric word, read and think with your eyes and brain about the content of Quran and Hadist. Just prepare to leave Islam!!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  10. rahlow

    Read the history about man in its quest to conquer point made. This guy made a point less point that the world has sociopath among us in the world. The blame game once again he blamed the muslims and they was'nt there . Norwegian are to soft on crime like this 21 years max in America death by leathal injestion especially in T exas

    July 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  11. Robrob

    “Since 9/11 2001, more than 12, 000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred,” – – Of course that number most likely includes attacks on US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Conflating combat with terror attacks.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  12. Beatrice

    Muslims should stop saying stupid things and change their doctrines on infidels and apostates.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • syd

      You should stop saying stupid things, get a (proper) education and learn history from textbooks instead of Glenn Beck. Deal?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  13. Beatrice

    CNN wants to paint all religiuons bad. America did not suffer from communism enough.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • saaaly

      CNN: all religion evil, everything gay is wonderful

      July 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  14. Joe

    Hmm there's one attack by a non-Muslim for every so many by a Muslim (no matter how radical they are, they are still Muslims). Not exactly an equal tally...

    July 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • syd

      following your logic, this guy was still Christian. Also following your logic, every lynching/attack by the KKK or IRA should be held directly attributable to Christianity. Right?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  15. Beatrice

    Norway should install death penalty instead of this stupid thing goes on.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  16. Beatrice

    Unlike all other religions, Islam's problem is its doctrine itself is the deadly terror to non-members! I hope this imam gets that point!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • syd

      may I ask if you've ever read the Qur'an? Have you ever actually gone to a bookstore and picked it up and seen what it says? No you haven't, because if you had you wouldn't say that. Why don't I blatantly state that Christianity differs from all other religions in that it is intentionally predicated to incite violence, based on the crusades or the spanish atrocities in South America. See how easy that is

      July 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  17. Judy

    We should blame the Muslims! They are responsible. They want Americans dead. Don't believe them when they say otherwise. Call a spade a spade.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • Micheal

      Judy... dont blame any religon for your misreable life.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Nadoush

      what a spade your a joke @ Judy

      July 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • saaaly

      muslim=evil hatred

      July 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Judy is right. The Koran advocates violent conquest of the non-Muslim world, and the imam knows that.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  18. chuck58

    Yes maybe it is unfair to immediately think Muslim extremists were behind this. However if we examine the percentage of terrorist attacks as a whole the Muslims win hands down. Until the religion of Islam as a whole denounces the tenet that all infidels must die it will remain a violent ideology. Just as Christianity turned away from the Crusades so must Islam. If not we are destined for hundreds of years of conflict. Don't believe that if Muslims were a sizable percentage of US population we wouldn't be having neighborhood warfare. Just like in Iraq non Muslim religions are being driven out due to intimidation and murder. Look at the Kopic religion in Iraq. It is on its way to extinction now after 2000 years.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Nadoush

      However what is your IQ percentage
      all that you typed has nothing to reality
      for me I read nothing in CNN but bigots and fascists

      July 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  19. JohnWalker

    Stop playing the "Islam is peace" card. Everyday somebody dies because they dare question Islamic law, we don't even have to go to Baghdad or Afghanistan to see the violence inherent in Islam. We don't have to look at the corpses they use as traps, or the IEDs they use that kill more civilians than Coalition soldiers, we only need to look at Islamic countries. Pakistan, one of the most 'moderate' of Islamic nations had vast swarthes of the public and Government/Judicial figures praising the assassin of Taseer as a national hero. Before him Bhatti was also assassinated, both for the crime of wanting to repeal the blasphemy law. These happen every day in Islamic nations on scales large and small. 8 UN workers in Afghanistan were killed because of what one US pastor did behind closed doors. Islam is to blame for the violence its adherents commit, just as Christianity was to blame for the centuries of Jewish persecution under various theocratic Christian regimes. Islam is to blame for all the murders and stonings by Muslims just as Christianity is to blame for the actions of Thomas Moore.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Nadoush

      Your a bigot

      July 25, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Ray Thomas

      Nadoush, you are a propagandist. JohnWalker speaks the truth, you cloak your hatred and Islamic supremacism in lies.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • saaaly

      islam is peaceful. why else would they have honor killings

      July 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • lk

      I agree !!!!!!!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • bob

      i agree with saaly

      July 26, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  20. Ray Thomas

    For every right-wing terrorist attack there are THOUSANDS of Muslim terrorist attacks around the world, and they occur EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sure, not all terrorists are Muslims and not all Muslims are terrorists. HOWEVER, the VAST majority of terrorists in the world ARE Muslim and that is a statistically significant FACT. It cannot and must not be ignored.

    The issue this Imam should be dealing with is why thousands and thousands of Muslims commit terrorist attacks every year and justify them directly from passages in the Muslim holy scriptures! Why are all these people who dedicate their lives to Islam and studying it getting it "so wrong" and what are you as an Imam doing about it? There have been two major right-wing attacks in the last 16 years, and HOW MANY Islamic attacks? Tens of thousands. There is no comparison.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Nadoush

      You deal with your own and we deal with ours how about that for a change

      July 25, 2011 at 9:12 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.