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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. don

    I haven't heard that the Norway tragedy was done in the name of Christianity or that it would get the perpetrator a short cut to Paradise...

    July 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • AngloSaxon

      You haven't been reading the news then have you? This guy is a Christian fundamentalist and his manifesto reeks of religious terrorism.

      Face it, you are biased to only point fingers towards a terrorist that uses Islam to justify his actions yet someone that uses Christianity as a justification for terror just goes in one ear and out the other.

      Shame on you.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • BG

      @ AngloSaxon

      What if I were to tell you that his motivation was honorable, but his method was heinous and counterproductive?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • AngloSaxon

      @BG
      then I am sure the Islamic terrorists will also tell you that their motivation is honorable. It is relative my friend.

      Any motivation that results in the loss of innocent life is unacceptable and ignoble !! Christian or Muslim, I don't care.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • BG

      @ AngloSaxon

      And would the Islamic terrorists also admit that -their- method, which results in the same losses of innocents, is heinous and counterproductive?

      Or are they proud of it?

      July 25, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  2. BCA

    All religion is complete stupidity.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Canuk_eh

      Thank God I'm an atheist. 80)

      July 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  3. Terry P

    You can take your opinion and put it where the sun don't shine.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  4. cha cha

    The real question is if not all Muslims are terrorists,then why do extemists attack us,and why are they almost always Muslims?

    July 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Philosophy

      The answer to your question is blatant and simple:

      Not all Muslims are extremists; the majority are moderate Muslims. The extremists consists of a substantially low number compared to the number of moderate Muslims worldwide.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  5. JoeMahma

    .

    These hashtags are really starting to annoy me.

    .

    July 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  6. Dave

    Why would I blame Muslims? Why don't you post an article the next time some Muslim Suicide Bomber kills a bunch a village women and children " This wasn't the act of American Soldiers"

    July 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Jones

      You speak the truth Dave. That's something they don't wanna hear.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Lumpy

      Well it's not all Muslims is it?.....it's just some lunatics of a messed up goverment.....

      July 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  7. Michelle

    Look people, no one is pro-Islamic terrorist. But some of you are saying things and having the EXACT same views as the man that did this shooting. Yes, Islamic terrorism is a problem but it's mostly a problem for other Muslim people (who are the PRIMARY target of radical Islamic terrorism) or troops in combat.

    I'm guessing most of the bloggers are white people living in the west. The article is aimed at you. The point of this article is that if you are a white person in the west and die in some horrific mass homicide you have just as much of a chance to die by crazed white person as you do crazed Muslim. I'm in Alaska and just last week a militia type white guy was caught with a lot of weapons and explosives. Do you think me in ALaska is more likely to die from a jihadi or someone with an "angry white man syndrome"? The attack in Norway was twice as bad on a per capita basis as Sept 11th was for Americans. These Norweigans are not dead because of some dark skin, wacky, Muslim individual. They are dead from a pale, wacky blond, blue eyed, right wing Christisn individual who many of you would probably adore in secret company and blather on how you hate Muslims together if you didn't know what he was guilty of.

    Why can't we talk about how obviously dangerous racist white people can be on this

    July 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • BG

      @ Michelle – ma belle.

      FFS ! You're about the best example of a self-fulfilling prophecy I've seen in a long time. Good luck in Alaska with your shítty atti tude.

      You'll need it.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Redd

      Stop labeling him as a Christian. How can someone be a Christian if he does not follow the teachings of Christ?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Norway

      Well, it seems that behind closed doors the real conversation is about how Norway is upset that they feel the country is being inundated by Arab and Paki Muslims and the reality is that there is a pretty consistent history that these people have been brainwashed in various Islamic schools and as we all are brainwashed, these people are brainwashed against the Western world and then they show up in the Western world with their archaic way of thinking and the fact that they will drug up some poor teenager strap a bomb and then go kill innocent people. And you say that normal people voicing this fact, that this is the conversation makes them like a dude who took that conversation to a whole new and crazy level? This is your argument?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  8. Sheik

    World is going crazy! Terrorists carry out mass killings without any objective while their victims do not know why they got attacked. This is one of the signs of approaching of 'last hour' (end of the world). Let us wait for 'Imam Mahdi' followed by Jesus (Prophet Isa) to unify mankind and to uphold God's true version of Islam with peace & justice worldwide. Insha-allah!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Lover

      muhammed "iman mahdi" cartoons rights?

      July 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  9. Ramtough

    Muslims,Christians,Etc...Religion as a whole is under attack. False prophets are trying their best to deceive potential believers in any higher power. Its already been prophesied that these things must happen to make way for the Anti-Christ and then the beast himself. From the looks of these posts it seems that the false prophets job of causing confusion is working. God help us all. Do not be fooled by religous claims of a violent man(oxymoron..for good reason).

    July 25, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  10. Muneef

    Did any one mention any thing about that this act was related to the issue of the "Oslo Agreements between Israel and Palestinian's...some how twisting arms of the gvt disguised as a Christian fundamental...while doing an inside job for others?

    This issue is bigger than it looks... This issue about Multi culture and religion are the cover up...!? At least this time those in control have used a White European non Muslim...when normally would use any Muslim by birth to do it knowingly or unknowingly to throw accusations on Muslims in general...we have among us many Muslims for the money would sell the whole of Islam handed over on a gold plate...I guess you have among yours who would do the same for personal gain or media fame....how many tried to assassinate presidents or celebrities for media fame....as had the dove church Paster to attract media by declaring his intentions to bring into practice the burning the Quran annually on every 911...!
    My fears now that in US and maybe in Europe weapons are easy accessed to then many will be looking to gain media fame as a patriot towards the European ancestry race,christianity and crusaders...

    July 25, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  11. Jeff

    BS. When terror happens it's only smart to consider the Muslims are at fault. To deny that would be stupid. We have every right to suspect Muslims as they are responsible for nearly 100% of all terrorism in the world. This guy and Tim McVeigh knocked maybe half a percent off that.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Redd

      You have a very narrow understanding of terrorism. Most victims of Muslim terrorists are fellow Muslims or soldiers stationed abroad. You have as much chance of being killed by a homegrown terrorist than a Muslim terrorist. So unless you live in Pakistan, Iraq or Afghanistan, most of these Muslim terrorist acts should not concern you. But to limit your vigilance only against Muslim terrorist means you are blinded to the threat of the crazed white terrorist, which may be the one to ultimately kill you.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  12. tim

    Terrorism should not be branded to Muslim or Islam alone this only shows that even christians are terrorist lets wake up...

    July 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Jeff

      No, Muslims are primarily responsible. This is one man vs. millions of muslims who are guilty of terror.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • adam

      One instance??? One??? The Taliban shot and hung an 8 year old the same day because houston father wouldn't give them a police car. You sir are misguided.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  13. NYC=51stSTATE

    Very well written! I must be blunt but what about all the terrorism of the military industrial complex we call the USA? It has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people all around the world, not to mention Iraq the least of which, is a country falsly invaded and occupied.

    If you like to distinguish between individual incidents of terrorism such as those of 9/11, then you must assess state sponsored terrorism of the US. Just because it is sanctioned by the government, the kiling of thousands of inncoent civilians in order to meet military objectives is what it is, the murder of inncoent civilians. Don't sugar coat it and say they hit us first as if you are ignorant of history. The fact the the US openly enforces a "enemy of my enemy is my friend" policy, w has over and over again proven to bite the US in its butt. If the government freely pursues such endeavors, it must learn to cope with the consequences. Actions have consequences.

    Now if you want to take it a step further and truly express your opinions, I know that most of you who disagree with my reasoning would love to see the entire Middle-East nuked, and all of muslims removed from the US. Not to mention the anti-immigrant crowd.
    This is no longer your grandfather's whites-only Jim crow America and in a decade, the minority population will become the majority.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • fkmuslims

      Don't worry about minority becomes majority...

      July 25, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • KHAN

      These are acts of an individuals who suffers from mental disorders,they are humans born in every religion and every race.It is sad that we generalize them with race and religion they belong to.
      I will be first to defend against use of word "christian fundamentalist"as there is no religion on earth which endorses killing on any human being.As Quran says "Saving a human is like saving whole humanity"it does not specify about a Muslim.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • BG

      " would love to see the entire Middle-East nuked.."

      We'll spare the oil fields.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • BG

      Oh, and about that Jim Crow horseshít – Muslims in American universities, shopping centers and office buildings have been constructing muslim toilets – and putting signs on them..

      "Muslims Only"

      We got your number, Mo. This is all going to come to a screeching halt sooner than you'd imagine.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  14. Matthew

    It is true that not all Muslims are terrorists or that all terrorists are Muslims.

    That doesn't change the fact that when a terrorist carries out an attack, that most people think the terrorist was Muslim. They usually are right. Everyone knows that Christians have extremists in their religion as well.

    The difference is that predominantly Christian nations try to ensure that their religion is not twisted to meet an extremists goals. Sometimes, we fellow Christians fail. We are not perfect nor do we pretend to be.

    On the other hand, when was the last time Muslims tried to prevent their religion from being twisted by Muslim extremists? I haven't seen any indications of that but we do hear about imams in the middle east constantly call for the destruction of western civilization. I don't see anything significant being done about that.

    Yes, what happened in Norway was a tragedy. But there are terrorist attacks in the middle east everyday. That is why Muslims have been singled out, and they will continue to be singled out until the Muslim community does something to try to stop their religion from being twisted into a religion of hate.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • adam

      AMEN!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Lover

      The Jews teach to get right eye for right eye and get hand of hand!
      The Islam teach to get 2 eye for 1 eye and get 1000 infidels died for 1 moeslem died.
      The Atheist teach to get $$$ for 1 eye.
      The Christian teach to give other cheek is asked 1 cheek.
      The Budshist teach there is no eye hand and cheek. This world doesn't exist either like in the matric movie.
      The Hindu teach to never give any part of your body.
      The Tao teach the balance will not balance if any part missing.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  15. Hotdogs

    It is usually Muslims. Can't frickin debate that. It is the Muslims fault that they are always associated with violence and terror. They did that to themselves, idiots.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • nezo

      Absolutely right on, their ideology is evil and no doubt of that.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  16. adam

    (Pwnd).

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

    Adam
    where do you take your news from.
    if you cant miorror your bigotry towards islam
    you dont see how many wars you waged against islam and you always loose
    Loosers

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

      It's spelled 'lose' and 'losers'. 'Loose' would be a word to describe your morals and mother. Go get educated peasant.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • nezo

      Bare naked islam.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  18. jon

    No muslims were killed they were all members of the labour party (liberals) and their relatives. This was a politically motivated act against the policies of admitting muslims and giving in to sharia law.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  19. mk

    People should learn Muslims history. They have expanded their religion by sword only. There is no dignified human values in that religion that attract people. You should go to any Muslim country and see that non-Muslims live under most difficult condtions. They have no right and they have to pay extra tax called Jijya tax. They have Madrasa ( their so called religious school) where children are trained to hate non-Muslims. On humanitarian side, non of their values gives basic human right. It should be banned only on those ground because it is against basic human freedom.

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

      Correct! except madrasa, madrasa don't teach to hate but teach to avoid communication with non-muslims (muslims call it infidels). I live in Indonesia and as minorities, I live peacefully and freedom but lately there is a radical group exist in Indonesia and they strongly politically forcing Indonesia govt to replace democracy with sharia law. If this sharia law exist, then non-muslim will live in stress, pressure and fear.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  20. Nadoush

    @RAY
    I dont count you from human race, cause your not
    your full of hatred and a bigot
    so your not people, your a demon in disguise

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

      Where did you learn to spell?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • HZ

      well, since your post is same, full of hatred too, then by your own logic, you lose your humanity as well.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:33 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.