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July 25th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

My Take: Norway attacks show why you can't #blamethemuslims

Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and Executive Director of the school's Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

In the immediate aftermath of 1995’s Oklahoma City bombing, much of the news media rushed to suggest that a Muslim, or at least a Middle Eastern connection, was behind the attack.

News reports on television and in print featured Middle East terrorism experts claiming the Oklahoma City attack echoed a World Trade Center bombing two years earlier and that it contained parallels to recent Mideast attacks.

The FBI picked up Ibrahim Ahmad, a Jordanian American, for questioning in an initial dragnet.

Does 'Christian fundamentalist' label fit Norway terror suspect?

Of course, it turned out that the attacker was homegrown and named Timothy McVeigh, not a Muslim.

Sixteen years later, not much has changed.

The tragic events that took place in Norway on Friday provoked initial accusations against Muslims worldwide. Of course, that proved to be the farthest thing from the truth.

Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed bomber and shooter in this horrendous act, was not motivated by the teachings of Islam, but by the teachings of those who oppose Islam.

A 1,500-page manifesto that appears to be written by Breivik is an anti-Islamic tirade.

Who is Anders Behring Breivik?

“Since the creation of Islam in the 7th century and to up to this day, the Islamic Jihad has systematically killed more than 300 million non Muslims and tortured and enslaved more than 500 million individuals,” it says.

“Since 9/11 2001, more than 12, 000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred,” it continues. “… This trend will continue as long as there are non-Muslim targets available and as long as Islam continues to exist.”

An inappropriate response to Norway’s acts of violence would be the condemnation of Christianity, or a claim that religion itself breeds violence and hatred, though the manifesto repeatedly invokes the defense of Christianity as a primary reason for violently defeating multiculturalism and combating the “Islamic colonization” of Europe.

The expectation shouldn't be that white Christian males should now be scrutinized at airports or profiled by TSA workers. It's wrong when it happens to Muslims and it would be just as wrong if it happened to anyone else.

A more appropriate response would be to expand the conversation around terrorism and violent extremism beyond Islam and the Muslim community. The Norway attacks highlight why congressional hearings should not be held on solely on radicalization in the Muslim community, but should focus on radicalization more broadly.

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It's also imperative that training for law enforcement and other governmental offices on Islamic doctrine and law not to be conducted by those who present the normative understanding of Islam to be something that is radical. Our focus should be the safety of all citizens in any country from every act of violence or terrorism.

By cultivating a narrative that says Islam is the problem, we keep ourselves from maintaining that focus. All terrorist acts stem from an idea that it's OK to resort to violence in order to get what you want; that it's OK to kill to get the kind of world that you would like; that if we disagree, we cannot co-exist peacefully.

Over the weekend, #blamethemuslims became a trending topic on Twitter. The purpose of the hashtag was not to blame Muslims for the Norway attack, but show how Muslims are unfairly blamed and singled out regularly these days. The tragic events in Norway remind us that not all terrorists are Muslim and there is no reason that all Muslims should be treated like they are.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Norway. May God make things easy for them and grant us all the strength and courage to stand up against those who preach intolerance and hatred, even if they look like us, align politically with us, or practice the same religion we practice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khalid Latif.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Interfaith issues • Islam • Opinion • Terrorism

soundoff (2,486 Responses)
  1. wow

    when killing is linked to 'godliness,' that's when we all need to take a huge step back and open our eyes. the christian crusades were horrible- as are the current islam crusades. i fear the world will never wake up.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • paulm5545

      Apples & oranges...apples & oranges

      July 25, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • peace

      We only wnat to live in this small globe of land? Why we must afraid? why we must be killing because we don't want to believe of what mohammed said? Hey Muslim, we are not live in colonialization age anymore! I don't want to believe quran and mohammed? and i say mohammed is just lier. This is my free of speech? Do you want to kill me like that danish cartoonist? I live in free speech fresdom countries. I hope my comment here don't spark your emotion to kill your non-muslim neighbor! or burned out my countries embassy!

      July 25, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  2. mike hunt

    "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."

    When muslim acts of terror are 16 years apart then we can stop #blamingthemuslims

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

    Pretty sad you had to go all the way back to 1995 for a non-muslim terrorist attack. This also ignores that extremist muslims target "infidels" and view terrorist attacks as a legitimate means of killing. It would be a tremendous injustice to try and move the blame away from the muslim extremists who publicly support terrorism and teach it to their children – simply because a few sick individuals who engaged in terrorism were not muslim. We should deal with the issue of terrorism head on, and not try to dress it up as some kind of popular phenomenon. Extremist muslims profess terrorism daily as legitimate part of their culture. This needs to be addressed, and stopped. This should not be disregarded simply because a crazy non-muslim committed an act of terror.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Oi

      Very well put. Thank you.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  4. The Truth

    Why blame the muslims? Simple. Without them, thousands of people would still be living around the world. Name one other religion that preaches hate. Name one other that many people have blown themselves up taking many innocent lives with them. Name one other that is more oppressive. Name one other that would make you not even board a plane if you saw someone of middle eastern decent. Sad, but the truth.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • bob

      ok just to get it through your thick skull no Muslim preaches hate we preach love and respect for other religons not to kill but help people

      July 25, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • peace

      Yeah even the communist doens't teach to kill innocent because they don't want be a communist.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Oi

      @bob: Your post is a perfect example of "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually believe it". Obviously you have convinced yourself to deny reality and invent your own alternate existence, but I have to tell you, the Islam in the world that the rest of of live in is a mindless, evil killer that has airports around the world screening old ladies, little kids, and everyone in between. They're not doing that because of Christian extremists. Try denying that one. Your propaganda is not working.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  5. denhunter

    I am really tired of the Muslim fungus spreading it's violence throughout the West, followed closely by their apologists and Chamberlain-esq appeasers whining 'Islam is peace!!!!'

    No, it is not. Never has been, Well, that is unless you welcome it's infection with open arms, then they MIGHT let you live a mouse's life...do you really wonder why a crazy man struck back when the Norwegians sold out to the Islamic invasion? Really? . Islam has been trying for over a thousand years to rip down every church and replace it with a mosque, and in EVERY city that ended up with a Muslim majority population, that is EXACTLY what happens. It's what their holy book commands them do...defeat us, and then you go to heaven. And we are supposed to WELCOME this invasion? Humbug...they hung an 8 year old boy today...THAT is Islam. The rest is a lie.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  6. Abdul

    a lot of ignorant comments listed here...lets not forget the real enemy and that is the devil...divide and conquer

    July 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  7. peace

    The root of Islam Internal problem is The way of the interpretation of Quran and Hadist . This translation and intrepretation lead to "do Moeslem must kill infidels or not?" This is their own problem, why others must dying for this? Hey Islam peoples, please clear your house before clear others!

    July 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  8. Nordmann

    This is so incredibly sad..
    But, we as a people, and politicians too have become so incredibly insensitized to what many people are frustrated about.
    Because after all, we are living very well? This is an argument that you would have heard by many people and especially politicians in Norway.
    F. ex. I suspect that there are many that are extremely upset about how the average person's tax money is spent.
    Norway has, and still are donating money to the middle east, Africa etc, while the elderly are put in corridors in nursing homes, scools are deteriorating rapidly, infrastructure is disinetagrating. (even the one police helicopter in Norway was grounded for summer vacation?)
    All while many foreigners are collecting social benefits that most native Norwegians do not qualify for...

    I am not in any way supporting what has happened,
    but if we want something good to come out of this horrendous act.
    We may have to look ourselves in the mirror and face some hard truths.

    I personally feel that the political elite in Norway has elevated themselves so far above what the normal guy in the street is concerned about that there seems to be very little real dialog.
    A lot of time and money wasted in hopes that these issues will somehow just disappear if we just talk enough about it.

    Writing this, it may seem trivial, but as the tragic events has proven.
    There is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction growing in many countries, which there may be time to address. Hopefully it can be done in a respectful way, and something good can come of these tragic events.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • mullah hajdar

      what you forget to say is that christian world has stolen trillions from others,muslims included,and still are-why are norwegian soldiers in afghanistan?

      July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Kella

      IWhat economic reason is behind what, apparently, is an unnecessary open door policy regarding immigration in Norway? Thanks for your imput.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • mike hunt

      @mullah hajdar really? stolen trillions? where? how? when? we GIVE muslims trillions in the form of purchasing oil, aid to africa, welfare to immigrants comming here. We helped Afghanistan stop the Russian invaders by giving money and wepons and training. What do we get in return? You blow up 3000 of our people. so STFU and die.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • peace

      @mullah: told that to Christian majority that killed in Islam majority because he convert from Islam to Christian.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Nordmann

      To Mullah Hajdar,

      There are Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan because it was ruled by a bunch of loonies that tortured and killed their own people. And they still don't have their ducks in a row, so it wouldn't be responible to leave..

      July 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Oi

      @mullah hajdar: Like that's any justification for Muslim suicide bombings and other murderous attacks? You guys are slick, I have to give it to you, but it's not working... sorry.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  9. Octavius

    Gimme a break. I'm sick of the blind relativism that equates Christian and Islamic fundamentalism. Once Islam goes through something akin to the Protestant Reformation and the European Enlightenment, then maybe they can be taken seriously. Until that time, maybe the PC crowd should look-up the Doctrine of Abrogation, which is why Islam needs to go through a Reformation, and why Islam produces the majority of terrorists in the world. Eventually the West is going to have to confront it because the Medinan versus trump the Meccan versus in the Quran when it comes to the treatment of religious minorities. Of course you should note that the Medinan versus take precedent not because of spiritual enlightenment, but because Muhammad was more militarily and politically powerful, while his treatment of religious minorities became more intolerant, cruel, and barbaric. Cash in your postmodernism and buy yourselves a freaking clue.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • peace

      As I know, the Radical want Mecca out of Saudi govt. They think Mecaa as International territorial for Muslim.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Kella

      Excellent point. It's really outrageous to compare the christian crusades with a so called modern islamic crusade.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  10. Thats Life

    Muslims should be ashamed that everytime their is a mass murder they get blamed. Why is that? Oh yeah a large percentage of the $ comes from "moderate" muslims from the middle east. Until the moderat muslims stand up and say enough is enough we'll be spending lives and treasure to combat the threat.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  11. Peace

    There shall never be peace when Islam is around. This idiots follow a book wrtten by an idiot. Any religion which propagates the idea of going to heaven by killing is stupid. So people fear Islam....

    July 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  12. bounderboy

    Aside from the extreme level of violence, anti-Muslim sentiment in Norway, and Northern Europe, shouldn't really be a surprise. Those country's immigration policies are extremely open due to years of a very liberal and compassionate world view to provide economic opportunity and refuge to the less fortunate. Sounds like a great idea, but when the newcomers refuse to assimilate and adopt their host nation's culture and values to a significant degree, you're going to have problems folks. It was hard enough for non-English Europeans to integrate into America in the 1800's. Unless people have radically changed, trying to integrate Christian and Muslim culture is going to be a good bit more difficult.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  13. jam

    When this tragedy occurred and they still didn't have any idea whodunit, i recall listening to an analyst say it definitely had the markings of the 'al qaeda'. Obviously, that analyst was wrong. I see your point about muslims being unfairly pinpointed for every terrorist attack that occurs. Still, we must not forget that it is not the religion that is the enemy, the world is in danger of any sort of person who is intolerant of others. Intolerance, ignorance, people who cannot accept there are others different from them – these are the real evil. They will cause division wherever and whatever religion they(supposedly) uphold.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • peace

      The cause pre cause law" the butterfly in texas for storm in California? ??

      July 25, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  14. peace

    THE MESSAGE IS: 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 11:22 pm |
  15. Maria

    Wait, what? Teachings that "oppose" Islam? Oppose is frankly an interesting choice of word here. In what sense is it used? Disapproving of and trying to stop or actively resisting and refusing to comply with? This lunatic's screed would be better characterized as inciting hatred towards Islam and humanity, or maybe maligning, these might have been a better if less pointed choice of words.

    Equating opposition with murderous fanaticism is wrong yet that's what you've done in one simple sentence.

    Today, one hundred and fifty thousand Norwegians of all types came together, marched together, to condemn the terror actions of one of their own. When is the last time one hundred and fifty thousand Muslims of all types rallied together to condemn the terror actions of one of their own? Silence can be deafening.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Jah Fari

      Look yo, im a trill guy. I come from the south and me and my boys like to surp on dat purple drank. Chu heard woman? Now i dont likes the type of jibberish being spewed from your womanly mouth you see here? Silence can be deafening, but a backhand across your lovely face would be even more splendid. Now please return to your cooking quarters honey pie, where your opinion may actually be worth something.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Jah Fari

      And by the way to disprove your entire banter with one sentence: A Norwegian killed Norwegians, let's see if the would've done the same if he went and gunned up 100 malnourished Africans. Stupid woman.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Maria

      ... and the internet is awesome.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Oi

      @Maria: *LOL* Tastefully done.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Actually, we can. This was caused by the muslim ideology, and the negative impact that is having on the world, as a whole. While this is largely the actions of a madman, it was the muslim ideology, that started the madness.

    We all are more than aware of the negative things that have occurred in many European countries, with muslim conduct and behavior, to include full scale riots in the streets. So.........where's the difference?

    July 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  17. Dwight

    Are you serious!?! That is all it took to bring everything into balance for you, a single isolated event involving a white shooter? Wow, I guess you must be relieved, there is no reason for any concern now is there? Blind and a fool.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  18. Name*adam

    Be it Islam,christian Jew and the rest on the extreme is always poison,we all Gods people,peace and love

    July 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  19. Pete

    Moses, you don't know what is right or wrong without the Bible telling you?

    July 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  20. RegJoe

    Why can't we blame muslims? we should blame the people that cause these atrocities. We should blame the right wing nut that fancies guns and killing people for ideals, just like we should blame the muslims that kill for their ideals. Make no mistake about it. there are fanatics on all sides. Muslims have turned their madness into a religion. Killing non believers is a part of their religion its UNDENIABLE!! and that little sprinkle of sunshine is also inlcuded into the catholic and christian religions as well..If you disagree take a look at your "holy" book. Muslims practice their religion and right wing nuts practice theirs thats the world and their religion is killing people that don't think like them. Thats what the struggle for dominance does it makes people kill each other

    July 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • bob

      ok u are a redneck muslims dont kill innocent people only terrorist do that like the ones this artical talks about why cant we lust stop fiteing

      July 25, 2011 at 11:25 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.