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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. Harry

    Haha, ignore the numbers. For every one radical Christian, there are literally millions of radical Muslims. The ratio in context of attacks is the same. This won't be posted, however, because it does not comport with CNN policy.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Reasoning that is against Islamic cause is not tolerated by Muslims

      July 26, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • sarah goldberg

      this type of horrific attack is something the muslims have always wanted,now they will play the victim card and be fully aided by our media in doing so as cnn has done over here.the've allowed khalid to play the victim while not condemning the atrocities committed in far greater numbers by the muslims.the media in the coming days will make sure that from now onwards anyone making valid and accurate criticisms of islam is labelled as neo-nazi so that we can't say a word against radical islam.all valid criticisms of shariah laws will now be forbidden and america and europe will be forced to accept shariah laws gradually ,little by little. this lunatic and his massacre have done more to promote the cause of radical islam in america then the muslims could have ever hoped for.this evil man should have known that violence is never acceptable in any form.if we don't speak up now against radical islam we will be silenced forever by our liberal media.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Rightly said, Sarah

      July 26, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  2. jasonda

    All I can say is white people who are not standing agains the threat of invasion of their countries by third-worlders are basically morons who are selling out their own race and their childrens' futures, plain and simple. It is not about hating a race. It is about having enough respect for your own to not allow pc and naivette to dupe you. Muslims in Europe have a much higher replacement rate (because the go there and use the welfare system to have many children courtesy of the white taxpayers) than the native population, which means that in 30 years, at this rate several European countries will be majority Muslim. If you think that the Muslim population once they are in the majority are going to be so "tolerant" and "kind" to your people as whites are to them, you are seriously deluded. Their religion does not allow any other way than Islam. Wake up. You are selling out your own countries for people who do not like you very much!

    July 26, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • Harry

      Yes.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Muslims once they gain majority would be as tolerant as they are in current Muslim majority nations like Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and so on.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  3. Liv in Europe

    Just because not every single attack is committed by Islamist extremists does NOT change the fact that most terrorist attacks are in fact carried out by Islamist militants. At least 16,000 terror attacks were carried out by Islamist terrorists globally since 9/11. Again it is a fact, that the VAST majority of attacks worldwide are carried out by Islamist extremists. And a few rare exceptions like the recent Norway attack or the Oklahoma City bomber will do nothing to change that fact. It is like comparing an elephant to an ant, when it comes to scale.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  4. Jeremy

    Khalid – Are you kidding me? Are you seriously saying that TWO terrorist attacks by non-Muslims over the last 16 years are equivalent to HUNDREDS of Muslim attacks over the same time period? Really? An intellectually honest person WOULD recognize the difference and an intellectually honest nation SHOULD engage in a debate that will serve to protect it's borders from Muslim extremism. Stop pretending it's not a significant threat to our nation and the world.

    – Peace (literally and figuratively)

    July 26, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  5. AlAnwar

    Islam started playing THE BIG PART in everything as a reaction to the western government backed Occupation of Palestine. When you keep silent on the issue of Palestine for 60 years, and help Israel in its crimes against humanity, you'll see more Al-Qaeda.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Why do you identify with only the Palestinian cause, why not the Kurdish in Turkey, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Tibetans and Uighurs in China. Are they not humans just like the Palestinians? Don't discriminate humanity just because they are not Muslims!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • peace

      There is no palestine govt before, the only is the spoil of war empty land. The real majority in that area is Christian. After Israel exodust from all over mid-east, the area majority become Jews. The Islam peoples only live in southern area of palestine. After the Israel govt exist, The Islam Arab come to palestine in great number to declare jihad on fighting Jerusalem. Whay Jerusalem is important to Islam, because mohammed dream about ascending to heaven from Jerusalem. mohammed doesn't know Jerusalem. He said Jerusalem was near a beach..yeah LOL...what sea in Jerusalem?? hahaha

      July 26, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  6. marky

    If you take your eyes off the muslims you are crazy. I learned my lesson. Then everything that has happened since 911 or USS Cole

    July 26, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  7. sarah goldberg

    this horrific incident is now being used by muslims to portray themselves as the victims and to make sure that the burka,hijabs,child marriages,persecution of gays and atheists,honour killings etc. now become mainstream in america .the problem is that muslims who believe that gays deserve death,the muslims who think that killing atheists will get them to heaven are the overwhelming majority in the islamic countries,if the minority muslims thought so then it wouldn't have been the problem,i've lived in 3 different muslim countries due to my work requirements and i have seen the immense hate for the non-muslims amongst the majority population.this incident shouldn't be used by our liberal media to muzzle all valid critique of islam.there are a lot of things that are wrong in islam,we should have the freedom to say so without being labelled far right for it.don't let political correctness destroy our country.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Just like Muslims go to great lengths in passing off the violent ridden and vile verses of their religious book as so peaceful

      July 26, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • Name*keith

      Well said. Thankyou sarah. Peace

      July 26, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • AA

      The US has been bombing muslim countries for decades now, killing men, women and children. What do you expect? If a bomb is dropped on your house and your whole family is killed what then? How will you react?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Hamid

      wow so much hatred against us muslims..
      i dont believe gays should be killed, or killings of anyone in any religion, color and race,,, nore does my family, and bunch of other 4 million population of muslims living inside US peacefully,now i can not say the ay are all peacefull i dont know that, but i have not met one like the kinds you say they are

      July 26, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  8. Name*keith

    The christian bible clearly condenms this act. The koran clearly condones the slaughter of non muslims.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • sarah goldberg

      finally someone with the guts to say the truth without fear of being labelled an islamophobe.speak up now before the liberals silence you for ever.this barbaric incident must not be allowed to be used to gain sympathy for radical islam in america.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • Leon

      There are multiple instances in the bible of God calling for genocide against the unchosen people... heck God doing genocide himself

      July 26, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  9. WorldIsRound

    Why does Islam go to such great lengths to divide humans into Momeen and Kuffar? Why can't humans be friends with each other just because they belong to different faiths? I would think faith is a personal affair, but this is what Quran says...

    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 12:57 am |
    • Joe

      Okay I'm holding the Quran in my hands right now and the first three verses you quoted are not there and the remaining two are completely mistranslated. Unbelievable.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      That is Yusuf Ali for you

      July 26, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • peace

      of course not, your quran are arabic words. Open this.. http://www.quran.com

      July 26, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • peace

      http://quran.com/5 : all-madinah? all madiyah?? just click book number 5 and wait ajax read 5:51

      July 26, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  10. Hey Khalid

    Consider this: immediately after the attack 6 known muslim terrorist groups claimed responsibility. How was it possible not to blame the muslims?

    July 26, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • Dan

      Aaaaaamen!!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • Joe

      I agree on that, the extremist Muslims groups would do anything to take credit for any attacks. I bet they wished no one was arrested.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  11. jonny

    "Of course, it was not the Muslims."

    Yeah, of course, people assume it was the Muslims for no reason right? Maybe it's because the Muslim world is the source of most terrorist attacks that we all assume it is them. Maybe it's because their leaders never condemn their terrorist attacks that we assume it's them. Maybe it's because many leaders of the Muslim world financially support terrorists that we assume it's them. Don't pretend that Muslims aren't the source of many terrorists attacks just because this was a radical Christian. Religions are dangerous and fuel for division and hatred. The bottom line is that all these terrorist attacks are carried out by religious extremists, you don't see many of them from the peaceful atheists who believe that life is to be cherished because we haven't bought into fairy tales of magic beings in the sky granting us eternal life.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  12. Michelle

    Interesting how many people on this blog actually agree with the suspect on his views. I guess white children are not safe with crazed, lunatic, right wing men

    July 26, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Yes children are not safe among any sort of crazed, lunatic men – again what is your point?

      July 26, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Dan

      And it's also interesting that you agree with so many Muslim extremists. Am I too assume, then, that you are a jihadi? Of course not. So please don't suggest that anyone here is in league with this man.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  13. Spiffy

    Religion as a whole is to blame. Whether you are Muslim or Christian lunatics will find a reason to kill each other.

    Religion allows people to be put into more categories. Instead of celebrating our similarities it teaches us that we are different and those who think differently then us are wrong. This way of thinking is what leads to events like those that happened in Norway.

    Both Christianity and Islam teach to kill those who refuse to believe in their God. Read your holy book. Only then will you be able to see how ridiculous it actually is.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Tom

      Religion is not to blame. The specific individual is the blame. Take away religion, and people will find another excuse.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  14. Ben

    I recommend anyone who donates any money to New York University to stop in protest of this garbage.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  15. stonedwhitetrash

    All the muslims want Islam to be the worlds only religion.

    the Christians wants Jesus' followers to rule so everyone just take sides While the Jews, Buddhist Hindus just want to be let alone. The two beliefs that scream paradise and heaven the most want power here on earth. When ten thousand years here on earth is not even one heart beat of all eternity SHALOM

    July 26, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  16. MOHAMMED

    as what we say is Arabic " The Caravan moves on and dogs still barking!"

    The Caravan = ISLAM
    dogs = YOU!!

    by the way my girlfriend is white and she hates her on race! she thinks they are boring! loool

    July 26, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • haha

      You can keep her, she has been sullied and we do not want her back. Sounds like you found yourself a great young lady Akhbar whateverthehell.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • stonedwhitetrash

      Did you say your girlfriend was a white goat, or a white camel? SHALAM

      July 26, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Dan

      Mohammad. Yes, but what would happen to your sister if she dated a white Christian?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • peace

      The real is "The dog barking and the Khalifah 'run' away".
      Is there any dog in arabia desert??

      It means "if there is nothing you did wrong, why you stupid enough to take care of what others peoples say".

      July 26, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • peace

      Tell your girls is she has prepare to be polygamy by you??

      July 26, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  17. AlAnwar

    Israel came into being because of religious reasons, they commit atrocities because of religious reasons, all this with the support of Western Governments from 1947 (when there was no Al-Qaeda) till now. Some people are so ignorant they ignore this fact. Al-Qaeda is a reaction, and main reason is the Occupation of Palestine from the beginning of previous century.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • peace

      I told you the fact. The palestine area including Lebanon and Syria, before Islam is belongs to Turks "Christian kingdom". So you say who did who and why did why??

      July 26, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Dan

      Most Jews since 1900 have been secular, non-religious people. Your accusations are baseless. They were never religiously motivated. You are accusing them of your sins, so that you can bring them down to your level.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  18. XiaoPeng

    Author is wrong. Unfortunately in the case of terrorism you just have to play the numbers game. Sure this piece of sh1te is not muslim and homegrown BUT for every white 'christian' terrorist out there, there are probably 100 muslim terrorists who are equally deranged and violent.
    Statistically speaking when an event like this happens the odds of it being a crazed muslim is significantly higher than those from other races/religion.
    Every time there is a massacre of innocents you don't see people jumpin the gun and starts blaming 60 yr old Buddhist asian soccer moms right? because odds are it probably isn't until investigation proves the truth.
    If muslims want to get rid of that negative stereotype, may I suggest they start acting like 60 yr old buddhist soccer moms. I promise you those stereotypes will end quickly although you will be accused of being a bad driver but beats being accused as a terrorist anyday.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • HomeBoy

      Hey Chinese Dictator, be careful. George Bush is going to have another vision from God and nuke your a@# off

      July 26, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • peace

      After democracy, the sharia will aim communist! just wait for this?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • Marc Twain

      So well said. What has history taught us about wars fought over religion? Repudiate all terrorism and stop excusing one form of violence in favor of another or vice versa. Call all forms of faith to a higher honor. And, if that doesn't work, at least have the human decency to do no more harm than an Asian soccer mom. May All That Is Holy help you to do as much good.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • dd

      You should ask yourself why? Muslims in those countries were not always that way and have lived peacefully in the past. If you think that Islam tells ppl just get up and kill ppl, just destroy stuff till you are in command, then you are an idiot. What they are going through you will never realize sitting in your nice house and plush sofas, to find the truth you'll have to travel cuz the media will forever give you one side of the story.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Sammy

      Man i hate people like u,
      U act like you know the numbers, maybe there are a lot of terrorist there, but thats because,they are criminals that couldnt be controled by the government,their government is not strong enough to control them, could you imagine if the US couldnt control the amount of criminals they have?,,, half the restriction and police force they would have? the whole country would be a disaster with insane amount of organized criminals and terrorism

      July 26, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  19. total non sense

    ONE SINGLE ATTACK made by a non mulsims VS 1000's of attack commited my mulsims. wonder why peoples blame the mulsims?
    1. The terrorist did it because of mulsims invading his country
    2. Where do you think the guy got the idea to blow up a goverment building using fertilizer?

    no matter how you put put, Islam play a BIG PART in this terrrible tragedy.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Tom

      KKK lynchings, Black Panthers, eco-terrorism, McVeigh, Norway, Puerto Rican nationalist terrorists... only 1 out of a 1000?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • dd

      You are just as paranoid as that freak, they are not taking over they migrated to that land. That happens over time in all places, watch it will happen to the US as well, if not Muslims it will be someone else.

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

    Inspired by 'God" to take down the bad man (and thousands of innocent civilians) who hurt his daddy. Now that George Bush, he is no Christian fanatic. He was just a goo ole Southern boy, doing the Lords work.

    July 26, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • peace

      so.What's up Doc!??

      July 26, 2011 at 1:01 am |
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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.