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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. OregonBoy

    All terrorists are not Muslims but most terrorists are muslim
    Almost all countries which have a sizable population of muslims have trouble.
    Most terrorists are not christian, jewish, hindu or buddhist
    All muslims are not extremists – only a handful, but that handful is very noticeable.

    And when the majority muslims starts speaking up against the handful it will be sign of progress within Islam. And hopefully peace for the rest of the world. Hope the day arrives soon.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      First they should start with not discriminating humanity in the name of Momeen and Kuffar and accept people from all faiths and backgrounds for what they are – humans.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  2. theProhetJesusPBUH

    – Scientific Facts in the Quran (Part 1) – The Proof That Islam Is The Truth – Abdur-Raheem Green

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiLBGHwX_4c&w=640&h=360]

    July 26, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      I would rather rely on my Sears and Zemansky, University Physics book to learn about science. My kid has better sense of science than your 7th century book of gibberish

      July 26, 2011 at 2:06 am |
  3. Ali

    What I gonna say is my last comment; you are beaming because you dont know real islam.. Read Quran.. may be you all understand ... stay in peace...

    July 26, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Read Quran to understand what? To know how Quran tells to not make friends or marry from other religions, or to see how Quran calls people from other religions as Kuffar and to be treated with disdain or how it treats women's testimony or inheritance as half that of a man?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • cccccc

      @worldround Read it first dont guess stuff, all the stuff you are saying is wrong in Quran men and women are equal you have to read it to understand do listen whar somebody else tells you prove it to your self.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  4. 4ureyesonly

    Biologically we all are human then why we hate each other.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      We won't hate each if we start using our own mind rather than relying on religious books that divide humans into Momeen and Kuffar

      July 26, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  5. david

    Oh shut up. This would maybe be appropriate a half year from now. But right now dozens of people are dead and this clown needs to use it as a platform to whine about how oppressed Muslims are...

    July 26, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      He is scoring some points for his future rewards from heaven

      July 26, 2011 at 2:12 am |
  6. Ben

    If our government wasn't hollow we would crack down much harder on the Saudi's. I am guessing that time is coming when their overstated oil reserves come crashing down and we no longer rely on their oil...but then it may be to late. I strongly believe that a big source of the problem is Saudi Arabia and the Madrassas they have financed in areas such as Pakistan and Afghanistan that promote an extremely conservative and anti-western sect of Islam called Wahaabi.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Why does it have to be Islam versus rest of the World. Why can't the Muslims realize that they are as human as the rest of World and allow themselves to make friends and marry freely from other faiths. Humanity supersedes all religions. We are all born humans and we could as well belong to any faith we are put into. Why these artificial barriers, why this isolation?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • Ben

      Footnote- we helped finance these Madrasses during the 1980's when we funded the Mujaheddin against the Soviets. For much of the war we couldn't give it directly to them so we sourced it through Pakistan. The ISI ended up choosing which Afghan tribes to give the aid to in which they chose the tribes that aligned themselves with Pakistan. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia is matching dollar for dollar what the U.S. is providing the anti-communist crusade. The Saudi's are also picking who they are giving their money to and it happens to be the most extreme groups. Why? Because they are the best fighters. Even the Afghans thought these Saudi's coming in to fight the Jihad against the Soviets were fanatics. But in the Saudi's and Pakistan controlled the money and who received it.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  7. De luca

    The Islam is the problem here. An un-developed religion that doesnt tolerate other (just look at the muslim countries – would a non-Muslim want to live there as a second-grade resident?) Yes the Oslo event is horrible, but don't make it a platform of 'tolerance' . Even American Muslims if you go and ask them would tell you they are loyal first to their religion (and religious leaders) and then to America.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:58 am |
  8. pop

    troll

    July 26, 2011 at 1:56 am |
  9. cornelius

    heres the thing folks...this dirtbag in norway didnt kill in the name of Jesus. he didnt scream JESUS RULES before he did that. he was a psycho, and should die. but muslims do their dirt in the name of their prophet, ALLAHU AKBAR is what they chant as they stone women to death, blow people up and everything else. to compare one nutjob who wasnt a muslim to the thousands of terrorists who kill solely in the name of their god, and then compare another god to that one is complete lunacy

    July 26, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Bill

      Breivik's manifesto repeatedly invokes the defense of Christianity.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • cornelius

      so if thats the case, islam is not responsible for the terrorism epidemic? if islam wasnt around, terrorism wouldnt even be a term people used. we have to wait 15 years of constant terrorism for another non muslim nut to do this so we can act like the last 15 years didnt happen?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Bill

      No, Islam is not to blame for the jihadists; radical Islam is. Similarly, Christianity was not to blame for the horrors of the Inquisition; Christian dogmatists were. Furthermore, the Muslims do not have a monopoly on terrorism. Have you heard of the IRA?

      As for the difficulties we are having now with al-Qaeda, the West should be blamed for creating the political climate in which such barbarians could ever gain a mass following. Fortunately, the democratic uprisings in the Middle East seem to be undermining al-Qaeda's appeal.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  10. peter smith

    this massacre is being used by our liberal medai to propagate the goodness of islam and shariah laws,we are being prevented from condemning and criticising stoning to death of women,child marriages and honour killings.labelling everyone as a neo nazi who dares to make valid critique of islam is just a way of imposing islam onto american society.why aren't more people in america speaking out publicly against shariah laws and radical islam in general? who are they afraid of ? speak up now before your daughters are forced to walk around in burkas.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Infidel

      You will pry the AR from my cold dead hands before that happens my good man.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Bill

      What "liberal media"? You mean the corporate media? And they're not glorifiying radical Islam. Actually, many reporters assumed that Muslims were behind the attacks. It is dogmatism and intolerance of other opinions that is to blame.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  11. Infidel

    Yeah nice try. Its still the very VERY large majority of problems coming from Muslim extremists. This one Norwegian fruitloop doesnt get you off the hook.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  12. Dante

    Sarah Goldberg is my hero. But, why don't more Jews speak out about the Islamicist World Takeover Hypocrisy Agenda? If the Islamofacist take over Western Civilization as they intend, the first to be lined up and shot will be the Jews. Are the Jewish people blind to this?

    July 26, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • cornelius

      if they did say something theyd be labeled white trash redneck bigots

      July 26, 2011 at 1:56 am |
  13. Ron Nader

    So let me get this right... Centuries of European invasion and colonizing of the world (Asia, Middle East, India, Africa, China and South/North America and killing of millions upon millions of people and sucking the life out of their resources is OK, BUT, people think that Muslims are here to take over the west now? REALLY? Really people? they are all secret agents on the mission? oh I forgot... Fox News...

    July 26, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Bill

      Those Western crimes were not OK and no, most Muslims are not out to take over the world. Some are. The West must be worldly and tough enough to defend itself from religious fanaticism. If the West was guilty of past atrocities, then let is repent and hold itself accountable. However, only the fool expects mercy from his former victims.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:13 am |
  14. cccccc

    OK i really had to say something on here because i see some of you are just so uneducated that is not even funny. When you disrespect Muslims do you know that you are also disrespecting Bible. Jesus is (Isa a.s) in Koran,( Adam and Eva) are (Adem and Hava) in Koran does that make any sense to you and when you make fun of muslim women being cover up, do you guys know or see how does( Mary or ours Mejrem) look, isnt she covered up as well, so please if you belive in God please stop beeing do stupid for once its the same ONE GOD, there is no 10 Gods only one whather you name is Allah or God is only one and we are all children od Adem and Eva (Adem and Hava). For all of you who read Bible doesent it say in Bible that God will send one more Prophet after Jesus he did it was Muhamed a.s. so if you didnt read the Koran how can you say stuff like some of you are writting on here, and for all of you who are disrespecting Muslims,Koran,Allah think first you are disrespecting same God you belive in. And for the last time there are no Muslim terrorist these people the "Terrorist" is a group who dont belive in God at all they only view the world in the way the see it and want everybody to be like that they are sick and they are not Muslims. A real Muslim cant kill its says in Koran "If you kill one person its like you killed the hole universe" So please stop and think for a second.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • mlr

      cccccc – THANK YOU!! 🙂 I'm an American, Christian and want to thank you for posting this!! – So many people don't even bother to read, or want to understand about Islam.. It's embarrassing for me and our country. Thanks again!! Salam!!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • cornelius

      if they dont believe in god at all why do they scream allahu akbar everytime they commit an atrocity, or justify their bloody deeds by quoting verses from the words of their so called prophet

      July 26, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Noble9

      There are many, many Gods. Just because you smash some idols doesn't make the Gods disappear. What did the followers of your God do to the followers of Hubal, Baal, and Moloch?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • cccccc

      Trust me those guys dont belive in anything, its is hard to explain to Americans somethings when they dont understand, does this make sense to you, old Bush started the war with Iraq and never finished when his son come to be president George Bush what is the first thing he does goes to Iraq to finish what his father started but Bush needed as reason to go back, he couldnt just get up and say we are going to war with this and that, trust me this is all their sick politic games, When you go here in America to sleep at night do you think of children and innocent people who are hidding somewhere now from bombs, in Afganistan and Iraq, you kids go to school,and live but they cant not even to play outside think about that and who is killing them and for what is not muslims is American solders,for 10 years . Sometimes i belive that this terroristic group is paid to do this .But i know for sure that they are not muslims.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:11 am |
    • cccccc

      @noble9 i am talking that about Christians,Muslims and Jews all belive in one God and its the same God.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:14 am |
    • Noble9

      Maybe YHWH, El, Allah, and Jesus are all the same God, I don't know. The Gods of the desert in the Middle East have spilled out into the rest of the world, but they are NOT the Gods of my people. The followers of YHWH tortured and killed my people to make them accept their god. But he is a foreign god from a foreign land.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • cccccc

      @Noble9 so you are saying its okey that American solders killed over 100.000 innocent Anganis????? I know that real Muslim didnt kill anyone but i feel sorry for you because you dont know anything other that CNN or Fox News.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • Noble9

      I know what I've seen with my own eyes. Hezbollah guerrillas firing RPG's at UN troops in Beirut, Sharia courts chopping off the hands of criminals in Jordan, Taliban rigging up IED's that kill civilians in Afghanistan. Allah is a bloodthirsty God.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  15. Harsha Mukherjee

    And am reading "My Religion" by M.K Gandhi 🙂 and its hard to understand that people still kill each other for it and lead a polarized by even thinking that theirs is the only one which is true and virtuous!

    July 26, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      There wouldn't be a problem if Muslims kept their faith personal rather than bring it to bare on law, politics, economy and governance.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • SPWeiberg

      @WorldIsRound

      And Christians don't do that here in America?

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      July 26, 2011 at 1:58 am |
  16. StupidWhinyLiberal

    Everybody is a terrorist except fascist government and their corporate handlers.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:47 am |
  17. phooh

    This tragic situation is a Muslim's wet dream. A terror act committed by a white alleged "Christian" somehow negates all the Islamic terror that has occurred in the past 43 years (I begin my count with the assassination of Robert Kennedy), and we should ignore that fact that the heightened airport security this "iMAM" speaks of was the result of the Islamic terror of September 11, 2001.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Logan9773

      Yawn. Christians are murderous. Muslims are murderous. Two murderous religions of hate.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • Ron Nader

      And I guess no other white/Christian did any terror act right? what do you call colonizing half the world by Europe by force??? killing millions of people and taking their resources by force??? do you call that love and candy? oh I forgot, if you take their land and kill them through some military force is not considered terrorizing act right??? shut the eff up

      July 26, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Harry

      You are right but how soon we forget. The terrorism created by Jews during the 1940's against the British is forgotten already. Other such terrorism acts will be forgotten too.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  18. Jake

    If you think about it, Buddhism is the one real religion. It has had two reports of terrorism in the past 2500 years. I know deep down inside, even Muslims know this to be true.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Noble9

      Buddhists have committed plenty of atrocities of their own in the name of their philosophy. Sri Lanka and Burma come to mind. Heck, think about the samurai...they were some of the most notorious warriors in history.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  19. jeng

    it's sad that hate against Muslim is still evident in some feeble mind. i'm a Catholic since birth but I don't blame someone whatever his religion is if a country or a community is attacked. it saddens me whenever i hear that they blame this or that coz of the difference on our belief for what happened. can we just separate the religion just for once and concentrate on helping each other in times of need?

    July 26, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Jake

      And that's why Christians are better. I'm use to not be a racist, but I'm tired of hearing Muslims talk trash about everyone who is non-muslim.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • cornelius

      thats the problem. whenever something happens to a muslim country or to a muslim person, muslims force others to suffer. it would be great if everyone could separate things but those who choose to create international mayhem each day around the world have proven that they are incapable of separating anything from religion. we shouldnt be made to be the bad guys due to an unfortunate truth.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Ben

      r u blind? It is religion that is driving terrorism 99% of the time.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Logan9773

      It would be great if we could all just stop worshiping fairy tales, and stand on our own two feet. There are more wars fought over fairy tales by unquestioning, brainwashed people.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • master bayshum

      @cornelius are u kidding me bro?! Muslims force others to suffer?! That sounds like every Christian led country. For example look at the sanctions America has bestowed upon every nation if they don't get theory way. The call it sanctions,how about u open that umbrella and see what it implies. Try starvation above all. That's what Christians do. They starve countries into making them do what they want em to. Get off ya high horse and ur head out ur as$. Next time before u post something just to be part of something and to take on the label of intellect do ur homework and say something that even u can truly believe. U just made my day,praise Allah u r not the representative of Christianity.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:03 am |
  20. Pedro

    What about madrid bombings, fort hood massacre, 9/11, London bombings,etc etc, etc... What repression of women in Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. What persecution of gays? Can I blame Islam for any of these?

    July 26, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Ali

      They dont know who is BİN LADEN... BIN KADEN is muslim??? I dont think so

      July 26, 2011 at 1:47 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.