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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. AlAnwar

    @ jasonda, Western People DO move to Muslim countries. Michael Jackson was in Bahrain. There are also western people in Turkey and Dubai and other popular places in Islamic World.

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

      Yes, but they are so few, and can they freely exercise their culture, dress and behavior?

      July 26, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  2. jews

    white people need to slaughtered

    July 26, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Dan

      Yes, you're a Jew I "believe" you. LOL...WHy do you peple always try to pretend that you're jews on these blogs, when it's clear that you're just Muslim trolls?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  3. anees

    will the media now project miltant christianity and brand the right wingers as terrorists

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

      Why would they if only a fringe group is such?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  4. peace

    So it is fisherman cathing the fish?? right??

    July 26, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  5. jews

    Americans lick the dog azzz

    July 26, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Logan9773

      Shut up, Muslim trash.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Oi

      Muzzies wipe their own azz with their bare hands. I think then they ask for a slice of toast, no?

      July 26, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  6. AlAnwar

    @ stonedwhitetrash, after the Muslims take the western world, they will only eliminate Democratic System and Establish Caliphate. In Caliphate, a non-muslim pays some tax lesser that what you pay now in western countries , and non muslims have equal rights. While if you become a Muslim or are already a Muslim, no matter what race you are, there'll be No Tax for you.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Harry

      Over 200,000,000 million dead bodies, pal.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • O

      Actually, under Islamic state the tax rate that Muslims pay (2.5%) is higher than the rate paid by those of other faiths (1%).

      July 26, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • peace

      not it not. The Islam sharia based countries is different with Islam democracy based countries.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  7. ISRAFILOVE

    No God but Allah and Mohammed his Messenger.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • peace

      alloh is ancient illah pagan demi-gods. mohammed is only husband of old woman.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  8. jasonda

    So why are th eliberals so pro-Islam, such as CNN? Islam hates liberals probably even more than they hate American conservatives– they stand against everything liberalism stands for. They are anti-feminist (to put it mildly); they are anti-gay (understatement of the year); anti free speech, etc. Islam has their own countries, we don't need them in ours. You do not see us moving into their countries, much less making demands and insisting upon exceptions for our culture. It is only white majority nations that are always called on to be multicultural. Why is that?

    July 26, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Name*Ashkan

      This country (us) which is Christian is a racist country, a non tolerant country, anti gay.... Iidiots like you that are just as bad as the extremist who are Muslim

      July 26, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • Kevin

      Yeah, part of the problem is your perception that liberals hate conservatives and are pro-Islam. Neither are correct. For the most part, we disagree with conservatives and think Islam, and Muslims deserve to exist. It's crazy people we hate. See the difference?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Oi

      @Kevin: Unfortunately, there are far too many crazy Muslims per capita to be accepting them into western countries, and their preferred method for expressing their opinions about social or political slights by the west is to blow people up. These things make all the difference, but I can see your deep in the fog of denial.

      July 26, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Oi

      *edit* ...you're deep in the fog of denial.

      July 26, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  9. Name*keith

    Thanks pal thats really helping..

    July 26, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  10. AmirSaifKhan

    WE LOVE ISLAM.

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

      Muslims are filthy PIGS that need to be slaughtered.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Spiffy

      Another example of why religion ultimately brings more hate then peace.

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

      We hate Islam but we love muslim. Muslim get back to us. Islam only venom in your blood

      July 26, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  11. JLong

    Why is this opinion top of the page on CNN. This is neither very news worthy or very well written.

    Well the nazi's were not the only folks to execute people during the second world war.....

    July 26, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  12. AlAnwar

    @ Spiffy, God created us to worship him, but most of us dont understand that. UnGodly Israeli type of thoughts lead humans to World Wars.

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

      are you just stupid?

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

      Religious thoughts is what ultimately brings the world closer to war.

      People would rather say their god is better then actually come to a logical conclusion that there is no god to begin with.

      I'm not really sure how you would define Israeli thoughts seeing as Israel is a nation made up of many different people with many different opinions but I am assuming (which I hate to do) that you are referring to Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories. I am against such occupation.

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

      Get some Haj.

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

      Both World Wars were fought before Israel was established. There were no "Israeli" thoughts before 1947.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:18 am |
  13. Aladdin

    no god but Allah and mohammed his last messenger.

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

      Mohammad was a liar, not a prophet. He coouldn't even obey the rules that he set out. God says you only get four wives, but Mohammad allowed himself 13. A prophet obeys the revelation God gives him.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  14. jasonda

    This is the same type of logic that liberal apologists always use that because some white people commit crime, therefore it is irrelevant about WHO commits MOST of the crime. Blacks are 13% of the population but commit 56% of all violent crime in the US. They are 7x more likely to murder, and well over 90% of all interracial crime involving a white person and a black person has a black perpetrator and a white victim. Even so, 99% of terrorist acts are done by Muslims– and they do it explicitly because of religious belief, often even being state sponsored. This man was a fringe who was not aligned with any church, was not state sponsored, and any claim he could make to being christian is loose at best.

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

      So when a Muslim is a terrorist it is because of their religion. But when a Christian does it it's because....?

      I'm not really getting your point.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • ExagerateMuch?

      Spiffy...Is religion the reason there are liberals and conservatives who hate each other? How about socialists vs fascists maybe? How about blacks vs whites? Or even North Koreans vs South Koreans? How about English and Spanish? Dodgers and Yankees maybe??? How about anything else? As much as you want to try to make religion the reason people hate each other... it isn't...It's simply humans beign humans...

      July 26, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  15. stonedwhitetrash

    After the Muslims take the western world and does to the Christian population what the Nazis did to the Jews the survivors hopefully will do as the Jews and develop a backbone

    July 26, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  16. KOWBELLE

    Jim

    Are you a Christian? If yes, why didn't you stop the attacks in Norway? FOR WHOEVER WROTE THIS...ARE YOU FOR REAL? WE'RE CHRISTIANS. WE AREN'T PHYCICS, MIND READERS OR TIME TRAVELERS. THAT IS THE MOST STUPID QUESTION I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE!

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

      Hey..we catch him..we condemm him. We are not like muslim majority that hiding the mass bomber.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  17. Sultan

    Allah with us.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  18. sarah goldberg

    i;ve never seen khalid condemn child marriages,honour killings,mainstream persecution of atheists and gays in the muslim countries.where are all the 'moderate muslims' when atheists are being killed because they don't believe in 'allah'? why no public condemnations then?

    July 26, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • sajid shah

      Sarah
      Give some facts when you blame the Muslim Countries about atheist or gay killing. I have lived most of my life in a muslim country and have never seen any atheist being killed although I have personally known about five atheists. Please stop the blame game.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Sassan

      As an Iranian – I know firsthand I can not be openly atheist in Iran – if I would be, I would be executed. It is part of Shariah law. Gays who are out of the closest are routinely executed in nearly every Islamic country as well.

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

      @Sarah Goldberg: do you require a catholic priest or Bishop in Boston to speak out against say, a bombing carried out by catholic fanatics in Ireland? Or a Baptist minister to speak out against homphobic murders in Uganda by Baptists in that country? Do you require a Rabbi in NYC to preach against atrocities like that carried out by Baruch Goldstein? Do you now or have you ever required public condemnations of THOSE atrocities from the leaders of Judaism or Christianity? No?? Then stop placing double standards on Muslims. Just because bad things happen in Muslim countries doesn't make every Imam or Muslim responsible for them. This is the great problem since 9-11. The fanatics make up a tiny, miniscule percentage of the world's billion or so Muslims. Lets keep some perspective here.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • Oi

      @Fabian: Interesting how that tiny, miniscule percentage of the world's billion or so Muslims can have such a HUGE and MURDEROUS EFFECT on the ENTIRE WORLD! Actually, by your argument it should be even easier for moderate Muslims to eradicate radical Muslims from their ranks. With such small numbers they should be easy to identify and root out. So, how's that working out in Muslim-land? Stopped any jihads lately? No event you mentioned cam come close to the 14,891 or so Muslim terrorist attacks carried out worldwide between 2001 and 2010. There is no double-standard. Nothing could possibly compare to the evil that is Islam. israelmuse.com/2010/09/stats-list-of-islamic-terrorist-attacks_9173.html

      July 26, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  19. AlAnwar

    @ stonedwhitetrash, the Jews want to be left alone? The lack of peace in the Middle East is mainly because of Israeli Occupation of Palestine. It even attacked Lebanon and killed thousands. Are you blind-folded when you look at Israel??

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

      The Jordanians killed more Palestinians in Black September than Israel EVER has. Some estimates are as high as 20,000. Where is the condemnation of Jordan?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • scott

      Would have to agree... Israel does not just want to be left alone. They have consistently violated their peace agreements with the Palestinians. They continue to move in new settlers into areas they agreed not to settle. The refuse to remove settlers that purposely violate the peace agreements. They fence the Palestinians into what amount to ghettos with little hope of economic improvement and treat them almost as badly as the Germans treated the Jews hust prior to the start of the holocaust. If you look at the casualities on both sides, the deaths among Palestinians at the hands of Israelis far outnumbers those for Jews at the hands of Palestinians. Israel has not bargined in good faith in more than a decade, and the last leader they had that did was assasinated by his own people.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  20. Spiffy

    Blame religion for dividing us into these groups. Religion only gives us more reasons to hate each other.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:04 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.