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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. Dre Ucci

    In your beginning paragraph you mention Oklahoma City, much of the media rushed to suggest a muslim man was involved. How can "we the people" have serious debate over this issue when National security denies the public from watching video from the CCTV cameras that were fixed on the Murrah building seconds before the explosion. An FBI agent who says he has seen the tapes said there was a John Doe number two. What about a secondary devise and a third devise that were found that day as reported on all mainstream news...what happened to those? Oklahoma City sure did end the "States Rights" movement fast. While in prison, Tim McVeigh was visited numerous times, apparently 18 times, by a psychiatrist named Dr. Louis Jollyon West, often referred to as Dr. Jolly West. Dr. West was the chairman of the department of Psychiatry at UCLA, but his real job was as a CIA asset, in charge of the MK Ultra Mind Control program. I can go on and on about Oklahoma City...that all roads lead to a cover up and has FBI fingerprints all over it. I will continue to be a conspiracy theorist until National Security is willing to release videos from Oklahoma City, and releases the video from the CCTV cameras that show flight 77 crashing into the Pentagon.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  2. Mark

    A Muslim is not to blame for this attack and none, so far as been reported died in the attack. I The victims of this attack are Norwegians, many of them children. It is appalling then that this chaplain has taken this opportunity to make himself and his religion the victim. Khalid Latif's editorial was ill-timed, to say the least, and represents himself and his religion badly. The month of Ramadan is coming up, perhaps he should consider taking actions like donating money or time to relieve suffering, as opposed to trying to take the spotlight.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Stan

      The very reason of this attack was Muslims breed like wild boars and Andres rightfully wrote, but wrongfully acted. But we can act correctly by self restriction of relating to the Muslims, no jobs no free schools no english, no money . GO back to Pakistan , Tejikstan, afghanistan, Libya , or the moon. simple!, they are not wanted in christian or hindu countries, and sometimes in their own countries. we should be very careful when we issue any visas to the mohameds

      July 25, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Stan

      The very reason of this attack was because Muslims breed like wild boars and Andres rightfully wrote, but wrongfully acted. But we can act correctly by self restriction of relating to the Muslims, no jobs no free schools no English, no money . GO back to Pakistan , Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Libya , or the moon. simple!, they are not wanted in christian or Hindu countries, and sometimes in their own countries. we should be very careful when we issue any visas to the Mohameds

      July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  3. whatudeserve

    "An inappropriate response to Norway’s acts of violence would be the condemnation of Christianity" What the heck! The killer is not even a christian in the first place.!!!!! How did christianity get involved in this matter????? The writer of this artice is certainly lacking in discernment or was it done purposefully?

    July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  4. peace

    Victim always get sympathy. The Europe and America are injected by Islam Immigrant. And these immigrant doesn't like China or Asian immigrant. Islam immigrant are politically way to conquer democracy. Do you know what they told younger in middle east and asian, they told that peoples in Europe and America leaving Christianity and headed for Islam. They saying that this is based of the Islam peoples number arising in that area. But they never tell about mass immigration. Look on Australia, how the immigrant came and forcing Australia for sharia law. They are immigrant and they must assimilate and not forcing conquer of the new area by use sharia, moslem masjid building minaret, and a loud voice of prayer in the morning 3am. The Radicals Islam use immigrant to increase number of Islam. They use tactic like a long time ago Jews in Europe and they said that the reason of immigrant conquest is like Israel conquest on Palestina "islam land – yeah yeah right!!". This is smells like Iran ??

    July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Oi

      Yuo make some good points. Khadafi declared jihad on Switzerland because that country would not let Muslims build their extremely intrusive minarets within its borders. Typical of the Muslim response. "You won't let us do what we want so we will murder your people at every opportunity. Who the he// wants people like that immigrating to their country??? Muslims have plenty of "Muslim" countries in the world for them to move around in. They don't have to immigrate to the "evil West" that is full of infidels. They should be segregated and kept solely in their own countries. The world will be a much safer place for it.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Oi

      You make some good points. Khadafi declared jihad on Switzerland because that country would not let Muslims build their extremely intrusive minarets within its borders. Typical of the Muslim response. "You won't let us do what we want so we will murder your people at every opportunity. Who the he// wants people like that immigrating to their country??? Muslims have plenty of "Muslim" countries in the world for them to move around in. They don't have to immigrate to the "evil West" that is full of infidels. They should be segregated and kept solely in their own countries. The world will be a much safer place for it.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  5. Stan

    I think Andres has a serious message and it must be considered, not his actions by killings, thats what Muslim terrorism are heard for. We must ban the islamization of any country. Muslims have problems in their own country and bring the stupid sharia law beyond thier crooked borders. As known as the most hated religion, for thought, actions and beliefs, Andres is making a revelation and Europe , US and Canada must act. We as induviduals can contribute by isolation , rejection and banning them from jobs and education. this will be a remedy against the disease for islamization. not killing

    July 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  6. woodrow

    Forget religion. This guy just murdered children because his brain is over baked. At least we don't have to chase him down like we did Bin Laden(may he burn in he'll). This whole religion discussion is totally unnecessary.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  7. Dan

    Muslims are a problem. But so are many intrusive and insular religions that always have extremist elements. Most of these are obsolete "social management" vestiges of a time gone by. However, Norway's leading leftist elite are also a problem and seem to be off the hook when in actuality they are a key source of this extremism. With their political correctness and leftist agenda they've left little room, thought and place for any other point of view or discourse. They've held on to the ideal of "multiculturalism" that has proven to be a failure in France, Britain, Germany and elsewhere. It was insulting for the Norwegians, via the Nobel Prize, to give to President Obama the Peace Prize right after his election without him having to do anything. It was a display of elitism like we've never seen before with the sole purpose of squashing conservative thought.

    If this is what is ruling Norway, expect more trouble.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  8. AK

    After Mumbai and similar attacks, it is natural to jump to *that* conclusion. And just as natural to be embarrassed and reflective about it after the truth comes out.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  9. FIRE

    Truth is strange, is it not?

    In all your eagerness to make Islam out to be The Devil,
    you somehow missed The Devil in your midst.

    This man believed European Liberalism to be superior to anything else, and wanted to "protect" it from Islam.

    So he took out an entire youth camp to "protect" liberal society from his percieved threath of Islam.

    And thus prooved Liberalism to be The Devil instead.

    Tough luck, huh?

    Sh!theads.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Oi

      Funny... how many non-Muslim terrorist attacks have there been in the past 10 years? Now, compare that to the number of Muslim terrorist attacks in the past 10 years... makes the author's position (and those who support him) laughable at best and utterly ridiculous.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • peace

      This man use "terror" to gain communication to world public interest so he can spread his "message". This message is "Watch Out the Islam Immigrant (The Al Qaedah Biggest Project – The Moslem must rule the world in 2015) is forcing Culture of Europe". It just like how Islam Terrorist Radicals send their message to danish cartoonist (remember mohammed cartoon and US ARMY General are so afraid for Danish cartoon) and the Islam Terror send message to the world is "If you fight Islam and kill Moeslem, you will DIE!!" and to Islam world "If you don't support our sharia based mission to rule the world then you are Islam infidels and must DIE!!" The message is DIE

      July 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  10. Randy

    No virgin reward to kill the infidel.........that's the different. Blevik is killing his own kind, unlike moslems terorists like to kill other beliefs their label as infidel........

    July 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • aber

      though, the pope might reward him with children to molest. i didnt want to respond like this but you deserve no less

      July 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  11. Misael

    Either humans end or religion does. Only two possible outcomes.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      I have to agree with you. The problem is that religious people don't see the end of humankind as we know it to be something to be feared.

      There's all kinds of awful outcomes that you get when you let people believe that there's life after death. When people think that they only have one life to live, and this is it, they're forced to be a little more practical, and reasonable.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  12. JamesBond

    Let's not beat around the bush. Demographic trends indicate that Muslims will soon be in the majority worldwide. We all know that Muslims don't always take it on the chin but fight back the often repressive foreign policies of the west. Muslims have also realized that time has come to take their rightful place in the world. Therefore, Giddyup...Amigos.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Randy

      you mena we have go back to stone age? riding camel?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  13. K

    I live in Norway, love the people here and love the country but Im a Muslim ah so I must be lying.
    Clearly these comments suggest Muslims are to be blamed. OK how about you now pick a Muslim country and attack them? and then get surprised and shocked if someone there reacts. You have done that before.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Bluecrane

      Is worshippers of the vile goddess in the sky that gives away virgins to trash wasn't in Norway, none of this would even be an issue, let along the cause of death to human beings.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • DVG93

      Right.....Anything else ya selling?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • illuminati

      There will be another CRUSADE. The final solution.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • illuminati

      Horus will win again.
      88 to everyone

      July 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • peace

      " K : You have done that before." @ K: the problem is why Muslim forcing minorities is because they think " Minority is Christian and Christian is a product of west and west is white people and west is friendly with Israel so west is enemy of Islam" The mindset of Islam peoples is basic on curiousity and conspiracy theory. The Islam are so sensitive and anti freedom of speech, The Islam always think that they are right and other are wrong!!

      July 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  14. Horus

    All religion is a glimpse of the same untruth. That delusion manifests itself in diverse ways but the two that have been most destructive to civilization are the monotheistic religions of Islam and Christianity.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      Horus,

      You're obviously just jealous that Jesus pirated your made-up fairy tale and has achieved vastly more Facebook friends than you ever did 🙂

      July 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • DVG93

      And as yu visit your deathbed, what are you going to say?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      @DVG93,

      I'll say that I lived my life to the fullest, and didn't waste a bunch of it reading fairy tales from holy books, talking to myself, subsidizing charlatans in robes, and preparing for an afterlife that doesn't exist.

      And then I'll say "goodbye".

      July 25, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Oi

      Bravo, Nate!

      July 26, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  15. jasonda

    Why are only white majority nations called on to be more multicultural? A billion Indians in India, a billion chinese in China, the Arab world is almost all Arab, and yet you hear nobody calling on them to be more multicultural, do you? Instead we are supposed to allow these non-assimilators who do not (nor ever will) like us very much to come to our countries, use up our welfare, breed like rabbits offsetting the native population, etc and we are supposed to erode our own culture for the sake of being more "tolerant" and accomodating theirs. They have their own countries; we have ours. Our two cultures are not compatible– they should stay in their own lands.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Atlantan

      You're using the same argument the idiotic bigots used in the ground zero mosque debate. Why should we do what the Arabs, Chinese, or Indians do? Why not set an example for them to follow?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Stan

      Muslims have never blend with any culture. period. They come to UU , US , Can or Eurpoe and abuse the system, religions, food, and our resoucces, take undue advantage of our christian kindness and value, I think Andres is extremely right, we should get rid of them, Reject, isolate and ban .. start by ignoring them at schools and job interviews. get rid of the hijabs and beards , burqas if you want to live with us . and of course, eat pork stake!

      July 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • bounderboy

      the "example's" not working out so well in Britain, Germany, et. al., that's why (their national leaders have said so).

      July 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Scandi

      You clearly have spent very little time in the GCC countries. There, Americans, Europeans and South east Asians vastly outnumber locals in the vast majority of cases.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  16. yunus

    well said @easyboy.some of u guys are haters.innocent teens were killed and u are busy hating muslims and islam.yu guys dont read at all.i dont think yu are educated .google history will tell u that non muslims have commited so many acts of terrorism in the past and recently.terrorism has no religion ,human beings use religion to commit evil.stop stereotypin and get yur facts clear.this is d time to unite against evill acts and not religion.non muslim live peacefully in united arab emirates ,malaysia,qatar,kuwait and saudi arabia .

    July 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  17. Kealia

    I'll be honest, the most intolerant people I have encountered in my lifetime are followers of monotheistic religions. It's terrible that we cannot live in this world together without wanting to impose our beliefs on others who view life differently. I am truly saddened by the events in Norway and I hope that this tragedy can bring people together, but judging by the comments on this board, people still haven't figured it out.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  18. Nate (Seattle, WA)

    Right. One attack that doesn't fit the profile of Muslims conducting the terrorism is supposed to change our minds?

    Seriously, when 9/11, and the shoe bomber, and the underwear bomber, and the 7/7 attacks, and the DC sniper, and the Ft. Hood shootings are all conducted by Muslims, we're supposed to forget about that because of one crazy Norwegian.

    Clearly, the author doesn't grasp the concept of statistics.

    I'm not saying that every Muslim is a terrorist. That would be ridiculous. But, to pretend that the recent resurgence in terrorist activity is not related to Islam is just plain dishonest. Not that this should be surprising. All religions, including Islam, are based on dishonesty.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • chris

      Timothy Mcveigh, Waco Texas, and the countless abortion clinic bombings across our country.....

      July 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Sam

      John Allen Muhammad (DC sniper) was not apparently muslim. Furthermore, look at those in jail and on death row, i guarantee you most will claim christianity. Now why won't they also follow along? You're counting 5 or 6 criminals who call themselves muslims to build a stereotype, but you disregard thousands of other christian/nonmuslim criminals as a "coincidence"

      July 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • chris

      How about the Ku Klux Klan..... They were Christian

      July 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      Maybe you guys didn't read my post, where I used the word "recent"? McVeigh = not recent.

      And I throw Christians into the same group as Muslims. They're both ignorant, evil, warmongering neanderthals.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • patriot44

      I don't remember the global call to support Mcveigh, or abortion clinic bombers on a worlwide scale in the name of religion. Please refresh my memory.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • chris

      Probably better to forget any of the past terrorist attacks by Christians to suit you argument huh? Prisons are filled with Christians as Sam pointed out. Your argument is bogus and teaches nothing but hate towards somebody with a particular belief.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      @Sam

      And you're apparently not too smart. Muhammad was born with the name "Williams" or something. He changed his name to Muhammad when he converted to Islam.

      And I'm not ignoring the overpopulation of Christians amongst our violent criminals. I hold Christians in almost as much contempt as I do Muslims. But, this discussion was about "terrorism" in particular, not about all violence.

      So, my point was valid. Please try to serve us some sauce that's a little less weak.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • chris

      Never heard of the Army of God?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Dr A

      if yoiu are talking satistics do us a favor and include these massacres as well unless you have your own book of statistics that does not include homegrown terrorists: check out these shootings in this link:

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/25/us-norway-shootings-worst-idUSTRE76O36620110725

      July 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • patriot44

      I think the only way some people will be convinced is to go on a hiking or camping trip in the tribal regions of Pakistan or Afghanistan. How about Iran. Go and tell everyone how it is not a problem with Islam and that you are an American who sympathsizes with their plight. I doubt you will live to tell the story.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      @Chris,

      Yes, I've heard of the Army of God. They're Christian wackos. I say, let Congress investigate them, too. Is their existence supposed to make me forget about problem with Islamic terrorism?

      I really hate to defend Christians, too, but the last time I checked, even when you count what the Army of God has done, and how many Christians there are in the US, the rate of terrorism-based murders in the US by Christians is tiny compared with what we've experienced in Muslim terrorism in the last 10 years.

      So, once again ... do you guys not get statistics ... or are you just having trouble staying on topic?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • patriot44

      Muhammad was born with the name Williams or something like that? What? Maybe it was Jones or Smith. He didn't convert to Islam he created the religion sitting in a cave as a blind prophet smoking hash and having visions. He attracted a following that spread his word. Study up!

      July 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      @Dr A,

      Nice attempt to change the subject, but I'm not falling for it. I get statistics. I actually had to take three years of math at Caltech, so I'm pretty sure my grasp of the subject exceeds yours.

      As I said in my first post, I'm talking about "recent" terrorism, which is the reason for the congressional inquiry that this article discusses. It's also a congressional inquiry by the US Congress, so I'm not really sure why you apparently think they should be concerned about the demographics of terrorism in other countries.

      In this country, in the last 10 years, it's pretty clear that terrorism has been fueled by Islamic ideology. Is that 100% of the cases? No. But, it is statistically significant, especially when you consider that the vast majority of the US is not Muslim.

      So, please, don't question my grasp on statistics without a more substantial rebuttal to offer.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      @Patriot44,

      We weren't talking about The Prophet. We were talking about the "DC Sniper" who also happened to be named Muhammad.

      Try to keep up, children.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      Hmmm. I guess the politically-correct trolls have run out of flimsy arguments for me to dissect. Signing off ....

      July 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • chris

      You totally disregard anybody else's statements because your ignorant. I gave you valid points along with other people and you just claim that they aren't recent enough to matter. Tell you what, take a poll what religion every criminal is that is entering prison. Get some "statistics" for us moron.

      July 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  19. Mister Ed

    Violence on any scale is terrorism. Ask anyone that has ever been involved in these heinous acts. I get mad too, but come on MAN – we have to live together and killing each other is not an option.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  20. chris

    I don't judge others who choose to believe in any kind of religion, though many people (in our country) tend to think it's their place to judge others. I thought the bible had something in there that said not to do that, but anyways my opinion of religion was summed up by Bill Maher. "If Santa Claus can hit every house in the world. Steve Berg: No, we don't believe in Santa Claus. Bill Maher: Of course not, that's one man flying all around the world and dropping presents down a chimney. One man hearing everybody murmer at him at the same time, that I get."

    July 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      I make no bones about judging those who are religious. If you're religious, you have a serious reality deficit condition.

      All religions are fairy tales, and adults who believe in them are acting like children.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Oi

      Well said, Nate!

      July 25, 2011 at 11:16 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.