home
RSS
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. Michelle

    Geeze you people are morons. Yes Muslim Terrorism is a problem In MUSLIM COUNTRIES. If you are white living in the West it's extremely unlikely that you will ever die in a Muslim attack. Most of you live in Suburban and Rural areas. You guys simply think too much of yourselves. You are not important enough for any terrorist to consider attacking you. Now if you work in a government or high profile building maybe you could voice some legit concern but I know you pasty, overweight yokels don't.

    Most Muslims in America are a actually black. As for foriegn born Muslims in the states they tend to be more educated, better skilled, and more law abiding than most native born Americans. They are nothing to get your panties in a bunch over.

    As for the case in Norway this was a white man who had no problem gunning down white children. Point the finger were it belongs.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Joe

      Lol not important enough for any terrorist to consider attacking us? What about the guy with the bomb in his underwear on the airplane? 9/11? Times Square Bomber? These are just three high profile attacks or attempts. You are the moron, Michelle, for digging your head in the sand.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • collins61

      You need to take something for your PMS. Your hysteria makes everyone here feel like we need to bathe after reading your post.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Tom in Atlanta

      Abortion clinic bombers are Christian Terrorists. But the media is afraid to call themwhat they are.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Dan

      And yet we continually see that the FBI is arresting this or that terror cell here in the US.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Nice advise – be blissfully ignorant and full of tolerance to the intolerant

      July 26, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  2. AlAnwar

    Jesus was a man of Peace and we Muslims also believe in him. We call him Jesus 'Alehi Salaam"(Peace Be Upon Him) we believe in Prophet Moses Alehi Salaam (Peace Be Upon Him). They all preached the word of God, had beard, worshiped God, "God's will on Earth as it is in the Heaven" This is the Muslim's duty and belief.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Muslims are just like other human beings, why do you need to show yourself as different from others and then use it to isolate yourself. Don't think yourself as different from other humans, just because Quran tells you not to marry or take friends from other religions. Humanity supersedes any religion!

      July 26, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • Funnyguy

      @ world, Quran/Islam does not tell you to not be friends with non muslim, But a Muslim tells you to not be friend with a non muslim.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • peace

      No you don't!! you call him ISA, the son of Marya. Isa is not begotten son of God. Isa not died after crucifix. Before crucifixition, Isa was change with others. This is mohhamed version.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Sorry you are wrong, Quran says unequivocally not to take friends from other religions

      Qur'an (5:51) – "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

      Qur'an (5:80) – "You will see many of them befriending those who disbelieve; certainly evil is that which their souls have sent before for them, that Allah became displeased with them and in chastisement shall they abide."

      Qur'an (3:28) – "Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them..."

      Qur'an (3:118) – "O you who believe! do not take for intimate friends from among others than your own people, they do not fall short of inflicting loss upon you; they love what distresses you; vehement hatred has already appeared from out of their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater still; indeed, We have made the communications clear to you, if you will understand."

      Qur'an (9:23) – "O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers"

      July 26, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Concerned America

      aLLAH CALLS FOR THE NON BELIEVER TO EITHER COME TO HIM...OR DIE. ALLAH SAYS THAT POLYTHEISTS ARE PIGS, AS JEWS AND CHRISTIANS. ALLAH IS NOT GOD, AND THE SOONER YOU REALIZE THAT, THE SOONER YOU WILL STOP TRYING TO DEFEND YOUR RELIGION. RELIGION ITSELF IS THE PROBLE, AND WE NEED TO KILL GOD. REDUCE THE NOTION OF GOD TO NOTHING, THEN MAN CAN FINALLY SEE A BROTHERHOOD ACROSS ALL LINES. YOU ARE TAUGHT BY THE QURAN THE FACTS i HAVE SPOKEN. NOW, MAYBE YOU ARE NOT A GOOD ENOUGH MUSLIM TO TAKE THE ACTION THAT ALLAH COMMANDS, BUT HE DOES COMMAND YOU TO CONQUER OR KILL THE NON BELIEVER. wHEN YOU REALLY FEEL ALLAHS VOICE CALLING YOU INTO HOLY JIHAD, AND YOU STILL BELIEVE HIS HOLY NAME, YOU WILL SLAUGHTER YOUR INFADEL NEIGHBORS AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN. wHEN YOU, AS A MUSLIM FIND YOURSELF THREATENED WITH SEGREGATION BECAUSE YOUR QURAN IS SO VIOLENT AND INCITEFUL, YOU WILL DRAW UP BANNERS AT FIRST, UNTIL YOU ARE GIVEN THE FURVOR OF YOUR ALLAH, AND FIND THE EXTACY OF KILLING A NON BELIEVER, OR BECOMING A MARTYR FOR THAT SAME GOD. i SAY THIS IS TRUE....

      July 26, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  3. Payson

    The Imam says that not much has changed between the 1995’s Oklahoma City bombing and the Norway tragedy. I'd like to point out that airliners piloted by radical intolerant muslims smashed into three buildings and in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 murdering thousands of innocent civilians. Thanks be to allah for giving his people the strength to hang an 8 year-old boy to death the day before yesterday in Afganistan. Wonder why we immediately think of muslims when we think of hatred? CNN shame on you for giving voice to extreme Islam.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Funnyguy

      and this guy killed 90+ people few days ago in a small island, shooting to kill, shame on you for being an ignorant. now how is one is different from the other. both killed innocent, helpless people. i mean i understand you have to sound smart and tough, but the ignorance make u come off as a stupid.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Why ignorant? Just because he doesn't agree with your views and has his own way of objective thinking?

      July 26, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Danigirl65

      Your comment is so wrong in so many ways. CNN is NOT being the voice of radical Islam, they are simply providing a platform to someone of the Muslim faith – as they are providing a platform to you regardless of your faith. Read the article and understand what the author is trying to say instead of typing a comment that in no way, shape, or form adds to the conversation. It only seeks to demean and belittle a religion because people of a certain faith did something horrible. So – should we label all Christians & Right Wing Conservatives as nut jobs because this guy took it upon himself to "save" his people by killing them?

      July 26, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Funnyguy

      So if he thinks objectively he is not ignorant, and killed 90+ innocent people thn that person is not ignorant, but if a muslim or does it he becomes an ignorant.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Funnyguy

      @ world. lol read again, he killed 90+ people, now what is the difference between him killing 90+ and people killing those in WTC. i'd like for you to tell me the difference,

      July 26, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      I am only asking why you are calling Payson as ignorant, just because he doesn't subscribe to your beliefs?

      July 26, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Funnyguy

      what is my belief? just because i am defending muslim you assuming that i am muslim as well. lol

      July 26, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Nowhere I called you a Muslim, how can I when I don't know who you are? That said, you seem to accept now that Quran asks Muslims not to make friends with folks from other religions

      July 26, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  4. dv

    The Norway gunman is a type of guy who is working on racist ideology and fear of Muslim parasites invading and multiplying relentlessly in his society which will in no way get along or merge with the mainstream society. This decade is going to be the that of Muslim invasion of Europe and he is kind of visionary who wants the society to open their eyes and see the near future if they dont stop this Muslim invasion. And guys like this Imam is trying to make this as straw to hang onto and take the label off Islam as the creator and promoter of global terrorism and i feel that people in general has a feeling that mainsteam media should not encourage devious people like this Imam to spread their cause.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      History showed that Muslims always isolate themselves into groups and go to great lengths in calling themselves different from the rest of humans. When the gain sufficient numbers they will demand separate civil laws for themselves and it is only a matter of time that they will demand a separate nation for themselves

      July 26, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • Amused

      @WorldisRound actually, its the Jews who have always done this and continue to do so.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  5. Spiffy

    All religion is to blame. Lose religion and people have fewer reasons to kill each other.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Thomas

      That's just nonsense. When you think of all the tens of billions of people that have peaceably within their religions, the overall gain far outweighs the actions of those that have killed or terrorized in the name of religion. BTW, the Norwegian bomber/shooter act of terrorism is much more about culture than it is religion.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • Spiffy

      Really it is nonsense? What about 9/11? What about the Oklahoma City bombing? Were those worth it?

      Religion also teaches people to hate others for their differences. Religion has poisoned the human population with false ideals for humans. If anything religion has made us more separated. Put into smaller groups so we can be more different. Instead of being unified we have found another reason to hate each other.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  6. WorldIsRound

    Muslims demand separate laws for themselves when they are a significant minority and demand for a separate nations when their numbers increase.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  7. Reetu

    Hinduism is real terrorism. Christianity is biggest terrorism. be prepared for hereafter when you will realize that who was the real terrorist. and be prepared for hell punishment. Islam is the only way.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Funny, you resort to threats and fear of hellfire! Guess what, you have only this life and one day you vanish into thin air!

      July 26, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Jonah

      Please. Every hot spot in the world is a Muslim country that can't get along with it's neigbors. That's some "way" you got there.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • So What

      What a hoot. Kill!!! Maim!!!! Cut off their heads. Murder children. Hindus don't strap on bombs and walk into crowds of innocent people. Christians haven't butchered too many people (lately) by machine gunning them to death. Nope, it takes a good, pius Muslim for that. And you wonder why you get blamed for terrorism.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  8. AlAnwar

    Im a Muslim and I am not cheering on the acts of this Norwegian Freemason who bombed and killed innocent men women women and children.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  9. Khalid

    Very well said Zoe. Education and Tolerance are critical.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  10. EYESWIDEOPEN

    Radha Krishna has it right. ISLAM is the ONLY religion of violence. MUSLIM TERRORISTS attack Hindus in India. MUSLIM TERRORISTS attack Jews all over the world. MUSLIM TERRORISTS attack Christians and Atheists alike in the US and in Indonesia. In this instance, it was a man's anger against the evil that MUSLIM TERRORISTS perpetrate that drove him to such vile actions. It wasn't Christian principles. Jesus was a man of peace that said if someone strikes you, you should turn the other cheek. Hindu principles are one of peace. So is that of the Jews. ISLAM ALONE stands as the religion of violence. Just stating that it doesn't and pointing to one or two instances when ISLAM EXTREMISM isn't the perpetrator doesn't change the thousands and thousands of situations when it is the perpetrator. There's no room for political correctness in truth.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      The very reason we are having such a long debate is because of the proclivity of Islam for violence towards anyone who criticizes it.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Luke

      Have you read the Old Testament? Books, such as the Book of Joshua are rampant with God essentially calling for jihad. The fact is, there are places in the Koran AND THE BIBLE that if taken literally, will breed intolerance and potential violence. The overall message of both religions, however, is that we should love one another and live in peace. This "Christian man" who kills innocent people is a terrorist in the same way the "Muslim man" who kills innocent people is a terrorist. Both are wrong, and are not a healthy nor accurate representations of their religions. They are radical fundamentalists of Christianity and Islam, choosing to embrace the radical passages of their holy books, instead of embracing the other passages that call for peace love and among us all.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  11. AlAnwar

    99% of "RADICAL Islam" is linked to the US invasion of Muslim Lands even before and after 9\11 or gulf war. 99% of "RADICAL Islam" is linked to the blind Western Government support of Israeli government and its atrocities.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • JCreliever

      You're muddying up the real issues with facts.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • its all about you

      99% of all muslims are killed by other muslims for being the wrong type of muslim

      July 26, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • Lotusfoot

      Don't even go there with that crock buddy! Look within your own countries and yourselves for that matter, for the root of your terroristic tendencies!!

      July 26, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  12. Roelof

    Weekly Jihad Report
    Jul 09 – Jul. 15 Jihad Attacks: 35 / Dead Bodies: 101 / Critically Injured: 264

    Ofcourse Islam wants to wipe their street clean with one incident. They killed and injured more people last week. Only one you heard cheering about this attack were not Christians, but muslims (German Spiegel).

    July 26, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  13. Mike

    One attack by a socalled Christian. And how many attacks by socalled islamists?

    July 26, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Funnyguy

      its funny how you are defending attacks by a christian on christian, really you have become that ignorant,

      July 26, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  14. Bob Rock

    This is what happens when too many third world country people move in and pee on your lawn. It has nothing to do with religion, but that's always a good excuse!

    July 26, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  15. Roelof

    Monthly Jihad Report
    June, 2011 Jihad Attacks: 184 / Countries: 18 / Dead Bodies: 930 / Critically Injured: 1527

    July 26, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Almost like stepping on ants!

      July 26, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  16. tree

    "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering"- Yoda. It is a shame that we are ruled quite often by the fear induced by the few.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  17. Ben

    Our political correctness is our END. When the day comes when I.E.D.'s start going off on American streets who will be the first people our government will target? Why?

    July 26, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Dean

      Intolerance will be our end. You are in the vanguard...

      July 26, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  18. Scott

    Geeez How can this Khalid Latif say so much in this article which really does not say anything or make that much sense. Nothing to see here folks keep moving. Thanks CNN for a riviting article about nothing. You put this in here for what reason.
    If this guy is one of the top speakrers for Islam its no wonder people have the opinions of the religion they do and why extremists have taken it over.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  19. Zoe

    The Norway tragedy shows that terrorism and monstrous acts know no color, religion, or size. People of all walks of life can do terrible things to others and their own people. We have to ensure we don't become monstrous by pointing fingers without evidence, by allowing fear to penetrate our communities and selves, and by allowing these cowardly acts to get the best of us and chip away at our trust of one another. So, this man is a 'fundamentalist Christian extremist' like Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh. Did these mean people started to protest Christian churches and prevent them from being built in Oklahoma or Norway? NO. So I fail to see why the ridiculous attacks on our country 10 years ago should be blamed on any religion or prevent mosques from being built in NYC or anywhere else. It's time people grow up, look in the mirror, and accept that evil comes in many forms and that these are the actions of sad sick people who are extremists who don't represent anyone but their own twisted selves. RIP to all the victims of attacks everywhere. This is NOT how points get proved.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Daniel

      They do have religion just not a specific one.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Ali

      Thank you, Zoe.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Dan

      Timothy McVeigh was an agnostic. Look it up. He was not even raised in a fundamentalist church. He was raised Catholic, but rejected it and all other religions. He was quoted as ssaying that if he had any religion, it was science.

      Please stop saying that McVeigh was a fundie, when you clearly know nothing bout him.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  20. Mohammad Haroon

    It is Individuals who commit evil actions, but blame religion (school) I wish no one, to create motive for extremists ( Muslims, Christians or ...) since innocents would pay the price.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:13 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48
Advertisement
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.