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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. Jalid Q

    This article is simply more Muslim rhetorical drivel. The recent attacks are horrible examples of a misguided few. The general jihadist global attacks are horrible examples of a misguided FAITH. THAT my friends is far more dangerous in the long run. We are unfortunately in for a very tumultuous century.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  2. TRH

    Blame the Muslims? No. Blame organized religion in general, yes. It's rife with fanatics and "true believers" that can, in their own twisted vision, justify nearly anything. Extremists of any stripe are dangerous as this tragic event in Norway once again proves.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Tom

      Yeah. Much better to have Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot. Give me the atheists any time!

      July 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban

      Tom,

      2 of the 3 you cited came from religious backgrounds. One might argue it was the religious background (Catholic and Protestant) that fed their killing.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Occupation

      They didn't commit mass murder because they don't believe in God, your correlation between mad men and atheism is asinine

      July 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • anti anti christian taliban

      @ anti christian taliban – you mean 2 of the 4...referring, presumably to Stalin and Hitler? The key issue isn't whether they had any religion in their background – the vast majority of people have been exposed to one or more religions in their lifetime – it's whether the acts they committed were to further their religious (not political/pragmatic) agenda. The reality of the situation is that more people have been killed to support communism (atheistic) and political totalitarianism in the past 150 years than any religious agenda. Each era requires it's own context within which to analyze the facts – it's ridiculous to compare the crusades with Stalin's purges and claim some kind of correlation.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Omar, Riverside, California

      @anti anti christian taliban
      as it is childish for you to ignore the countless that have died are dying and persecuted and are being persecuted , enslaved and being outrightly striped of their basic human rights by Islam and all muslim countries.
      If you want to call the kettle black then stop being a pot.
      If you want to point the finger as you are so apt at doing then make sure you include everyone because what has happened in the last 150 years is dwarfed by what is happening in muslim countries and has been happening for the past 1000 years.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  3. Conservative

    The day we destroy the media that tells people to do drugs, party, and sleep around is the day America becomes great again. We destroyed America with our debauchery ways and selfish greed. It wasn't muslims, jews, blacks, native americans, or immigrants that caused all of this to happen. It was anti-religious and anti-moral secularists that told us to ban all religions and moral codes from school and put garbage all over the television and music which made a bad impression on our children and destroyed entire generations from the Baby Boomers to this very day.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • JoseyWales

      im pretty sure the guys who said school and religion dont mix were the founding fathers, who by some definitions would be terrorists since they used guerrilla tactics to overthrow a legitimate government

      July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Archimedes

      Irony is lost on you. The ones who derive their morality solely from religion are the same ones who promote and participate in the extreme and violent behaviors at hand.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Conservative

      JoseyWhales that is bs and you know it. We had prayer in school from 1789-1950. The Founding Fathers were very ok with prayer in school, legislation, etc. Massachusetts was ran by Puritans at that time. Anglican faith was heavy in Virginia. FreeMason Icons made it onto our monuments and money.

      Country was fine until Hollywood got liberal and ruined it with their liberal ideology. Then families fell apart and schools became warzones.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Conservative

      Archimedes, where did I advocate violence? In fact I was against it. I am right-wing but I support Pacifism as a means to change a society not violence. Gandhi and MLK jr. changed the world through pacifism, it can work. We need Christianity back in my society, the real religion. I also don't mind other religions because they have good morals about them even if they are wrong. Athiest are the most wicked people I have ever met though. There are a few good ones but most are just garbage and cause a lot of problems for everyone around them.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Nodack

      Once again it's the anti Religious people who are to blame for all those religious people doing all those terrorist attacks and for bringing down our own society with their evil ways. Seems to be a growing theme today. So Atheists are the new terrorists even though they have been linked to zero terrorist activities.

      Everybody needs a villain to appose I guess.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Letsbereasonable

      Apparently, Logic, Reason and Skepticism are "terrorism." Sorry, "Conservative." It's not "your" society. If you want a theocracy, go to Iran or better yet, Saudi Arabia.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Conservative

      Athiest live sad empty lives. I pity all of you.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban

      Conservative

      Athiest live sad empty lives. I pity all of you.

      -------–
      And christians kill in the name of their god. Your point????

      July 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban

      ps and Agnostics live fulfilling lives not worrying about what other men say or write.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  4. nick

    This a repost of a comment to another commenter, but considering it could be applied to so many people commenting on this article, I'll post it again.

    Moderate Muslims are not raising their voices? Er, what about the author?

    If that doesn't satisfy you, well, then let me be the first (even though in reality, I'm probably the 50,000th).

    Moderate Muslims condemn this act of violence.

    Happy?

    P.S. I'm tired of people saying moderate Muslims don't condemn these acts. We do. But you people close your ears and your eyes to us. It's hard to get recognized when your audience refuses to acknowledge you.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  5. Slumberjack

    Religion, conservatism, fascism, corporatism, it all comes out of the same jug of snake oil. Eventually the left will need to confront these reactionary movements once and for all as a matter of human survival.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Conservative

      Slumberjack it is athiest garbage like you that RUINED this world. I go to school and the Christians/Muslims, etc. are the best people to be around. Athiest like you are doing drugs, starting fights, and breaking laws. It is athiests that flooded the television and radio with the garbage that our youth are exposed to every year.

      Get off your high horse.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Slumberjack

      The funny thing about children, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy etc, is that eventually, every child grows out of those imaginary beliefs. Meanwhile we're still waiting on the adults to shed their unreasonable attachment to that bearded wonder in the clouds. It's no better than a child who refuses give up his security blanket, clinging to it out of an irrational fear of having to do without it.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Letsbereasonable

      Wow, and who just killed 76 people in Norway. A fundamentalist xtian. Great guy he is.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Conservative

      There terrorism is caused by murdering over 100k babies every year through abortion or murdering desenters in their Communist Russia. If they take power in USA, they will kill every Christian. I am sure of this. History repeats itself.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  6. Letsbereasonable

    Blame religion of all kinds for this and most other forms of terror, war and general human suffering. You are killing each other over myths. It's ridiculous and it should stop. Time to grow up.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Conservative

      Blame secularist for teen pregnancy, drug abuse, gang warfare, and violence in our schools. They banned every moral code from the United States to make it secular. Didn't work out well did it?

      July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Archimedes

      Conservative, you need to realize that many, if not most of the items you mentioned occur at the highest rates in the most religious states.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Letsbereasonable

      How funny it is that teen pregnancy seems to occur most in areas of the Bible Belt. Haha. Only in religion will you find a moral justification for atrocities, a la Norway. To say that morality comes from religion is laughable on its face. You'll find, if you have ever read anything about violence, that the countries with the highest rates of violence also are the most pious and observant of religion. Societies where religion is not a major part of society, they have the lowest rates of crime, drug use, teen pregnancy etc. Of course, you'll cling to your mythical delusions.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban

      Archimedes

      Conservative, you need to realize that many, if not most of the items you mentioned occur at the highest rates in the most religious states.

      ----
      That can't be true....but god is great. 😮

      July 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban

      Conservative

      Blame secularist for teen pregnancy....
      -----–
      How effective was spiritual god upbringing for Palin? Here is your sign Conservative...no go pray some more.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  7. SconnieGuz

    Muslims are great at blaming the West for everything and criticizing everything it does all while at the same time infesting the West like a bunch of rats. Bet you like that freedom don't ya, muslims?? Don't get that in middle eastern countries do ya???

    July 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • C Reason

      Your comment proves you didn't read the article.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  8. CheyneyBush

    After checking the historical killing figures presented above, we now know who the terrorist champions of the world. The reality is that Muslims killed very far less than christians killed. If we are to give grade on terrorism and give a trophy to the winner; the christians are the terrorism champions of the world hands down. Lets us be truthful about it.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Matthew

      List of sources upon which you based your analysis?

      July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Dale

      Show me all your facts and references so I can verify your claims.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Jeremey N.

      Dude this isn't a freaking championship.....

      July 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  9. Charles

    Blame the humans. We suck!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban

      Blame the devil and his demons

      July 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  10. O.W. Grant

    @Keith B. Point taken and agreed upon. I just don't see this as an issue that is exclusive to Islam. I feel that radicalism is the true issue and not the default underlining religion. I grew up christian but many of that community would not count me in their numbers at the moment. I look to other terrorist organizations such as the Irish Republican Army which has no real ties to Islam in regards to my statement. I believe that if we start combating an idea or a religion it is far to difficult to defeat. Instead we should be looking for radicals and outliers of those ideas.

    I know many Muslims who constantly condone terrorist acts, I know many good Christians, republicans, democrats, Buddhists and atheists. I don't think we should paint such large strokes of "Islam does nothing but breeds murders" because those claims.... just are not true.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  11. Nodack

    People fear or hate what they don't understand. Islam scares Christians. Christianity scares Muslims. Two different Religions and two different cultures that have apposed each other for a long time.

    Personally, besides skin color and looks, I think all people are the same when they are born. Local religion and customs dictate the views of people. Swap out babies from Afghanistan and the US and raise them and see what happens.

    Quit finding ways to hate each other and realize that we are all just temporary visitors on this planet and that it would be nicer if we just helped each other and got along instead of creating enemies out of everybody that is different than yourself.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  12. SierraMan

    CheyneyBush

    Hitler a true christian killed more innocent people than any body in history of mankind. Have we ever heard anybody accusing christians and christianity. Double standard is the tool of hypocrites!! The recent Norway Christian fundamentalist terror action event has helped exposed the Dumb-a$$es of our time.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Thor

    Actually, Hitler was born a Jew!

    -------
    CheneyBush, and Thor...you are both INCREDIBLY poorly informed here. The Hitler a Jew thing was debunked many moons ago, and although he was born Catholic, he NEVER was a true Christian and he basically walked away from his religious upbringing when he was a teen. He hated Christianity because it believed in right/wrong, and absolute morals established by God....all of which Hitler was completely devoid of.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Letsbereasonable

      and did not Hitler use religion to perpetrate his vile crimes? Did not the Vatican refuse to castigate Hitler? Did not the SS have "God With Us" on their clothing? Hitler was religious. To deny it is to deny history.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  13. JackSparrow

    Islam teches submission and intolerance of any other faith. That itself puts it completely opposite of CHristianity, any other faith. It is no different than had Genghis Khan started a faith/'religion' in areas he conquered. It is a system of subjugation.. nothing more.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Archimedes

      I fail to see how Christianity differs in this respect. Last time I read the Bible it seemed to advocate complete submission to God and his laws.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • JoseyWales

      Doesnt christianity do exactly the same thing in the first two or three of its commandments?

      July 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Jack Chambers

      WHAT ARE YOU BASING THIS ON!!!! MUSLIMS BELIEVE IN CHRIST!!! THE VIRGIN MARY IS THE MOST HONORED WOMAN IN ISLAM. THE MILLIONS OF WOMEN TODAY WHO WEAR A SCARF OVER THEIR HEAD ARE FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE VIRGIN MARY!!! TO BE A MUSLIM YOU MUST BELIEVE IN JUDIASM AND CHRISTIANITY!!! WHERE DOES THIS NONSENSE COME FROM????????????????????????? TURN OFF THE TV AND READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Reply to Jack Chambers: Muslims believe that Jesus existed historically, but they claim that GOD HAS NO SON. They do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. They do not believe that he died on the cross. They do not believe that he rose from the dead. They do not believe in salvation by faith in Christ. Instead of these Biblical doctrines, they teach that Christians and Jews are enemies to be destroyed. The whole purpose of Islam is to destroy Judaism and Christianity by destroying Jews and Christians. Islam has no other purpose. Thus, Islam is not compatible with Judaism or Christianity, never was, and never will be.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  14. Steve

    This is ridiculous.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  15. TrVNAmerican

    I'm a Christian and agree with Mr. Latif (writer).

    July 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Too bad he didn't tell you what he REALLY thinks. He only told you what he wants you to THINK that he thinks.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  16. pourquoi

    Yes and more Muslims are killed by terroits than any other group.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Jeremey N.

      And still Muslims won't wake up and defend their religion against extremists.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • RationalThinker

      @JeremyN – Neither will the Christians.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  17. Olga

    Absolutely adamchicago! I don't feel bad thinking it was them at all.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  18. ToBuddyR

    New testament:
    Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
    Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
    Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
    1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
    Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
    ....

    July 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Slumberjack

      A pile of bunk that was made up as they went along. I suppose it has some value in a literary sense, similar to other literary works from antiquity.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Kevin

      Those verses aren't a good example because they deal with God handing out punishment rather than commanding his followers to do so.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  19. Jeremey N.

    Come on man!! You talked about 2 incidents about Muslims getting blamed for attacks that they didn't do. But look at hundreds (yes hundreds counting attacks in Pakistan, India, Israel where attacks happen on regular basis), they are all by Muslims.

    When you have have 50 attacks in last few years and 48 of them have been done by Muslims, it means 96% of the time of the next attack performed is going to be by a Muslim. NOTE: Its 96 and not 100 so you can't blame them for it until its proven, but if there was one that just happened, you would be 96% correct that it would be Muslim and thus there isn't anything wrong with start looking at first. For instance, if you have lost a key, and you remember that you brought it home, its most logical to look for the key at home. Just to show you looked everywhere, you can't start looking for it in office. Its likely you remembered wrong and it turns up in office, but in all likely hood it would be in home so that the place to start looking since there is a very good probability that you will find it at home.. Its just that simple....

    Don't get me wrong, I am not a hater, but you can't ignore the facts.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • usman

      Jeremy N,

      There are other examples such asr cross-atlantic slave-trade, wwI, wwii, holocaust, colonialism, imperialism, historic anti-semitism, vietnam, laos, grenada, panama, manifest destiny, native american genocide... the list goes on.

      The author could pile on but he doesn't. You miss the point. I can't hold all christians and europeans collectively responsible. Try doing the same for 1.29999999 billion muslims.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • RationalThinker

      How about decades of violent terrorism in Ireland – once again on the rise due to Christian infighting? Clayton Lee Wagner? Larry Raugust? Matt Hale? David Hull? Scott Roeder? James von Brunn? I could go on... far right Christians are far more dangerous to the freedom and security of the US than any Muslim.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • dale

      i cant hate people becasue i can see there similarity of love between us all. what blinds us is ignorance and screaming politicians and rotten newspersons. people i cant begin to realize we can hate each other. talk down of someone else with no real knowledge about them or history. lets forget about the cliches like ohh all religions have been bad, and all have been victimized at some time or other. what i think is more important that we stop doing the same mistakes of our past. we, in this country took fellow humans as slaves, we hung them, violated them, sold them and we are still the same humans.it took them(blacks) hundreds of years to get to the point in our society which the rest of the whites enjoyed for ever. as human being at some point during our evolution of ideas, we relaize our actions are wrong. and then we correct it, but not before making entire race of people suffer. So with that thought can we not just forgo the suffereing of some poor muslim family and grant ourselfs the dignity of leaving a sensible comments that we are not going to be ahsamed of. can we see this silly name calling for what it is and move on to more sensible convesations about understanding each other and to respect each other. can we some how get to point where in history the dignity of a minotry are not devastated by minority of ignorants. and no i am not calling non muslims ignorant rather i call the screaming politicians that lend the there ignorance to others that goes around screaming jibirish and non sence.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  20. Dr. Evil

    "Sixteen years later, not much has changed."

    Really?

    911. Two middle east wars later later. Countless Al Qaeda attacks. The total failure of Pakistan to police its own people and you say not much has changed.

    This clown from Norway is just a reflex to all that middle eastern crap.

    What about the attacks in India? Guess we can't blame the Muslims for those either.

    Time to take of those rose colored glasses my friend.

    The day Muslim people start to take responsibility for their peoples actions and start to do something to fix it will be the day i'll say "Don't blame the Muslims". Until then, odds are Muslims will be #1 on the suspect list list when things like this occur.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Jeremey N.

      Well said..

      July 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Neglakay

      Gotta love it...who can remember the last time innocents got murdered in the name of Allah? a week ago maybe...

      July 25, 2011 at 3:51 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.