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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. Concerned America

    no, my site is small, and is not yet at capacity. My site states a fact: Islam is Dangerous. It doesnt candy coat it, nor does it expound on the many many reasons why. My site also recognizes that other religions are dangerous, but that they do not have the momentum that Islam has. Nor the numbers to kill as many as Islam does. My site is not an argument, but s atetment of fact: Islam is dangerous. By banning the mosque, and denying special treatment to muslims, we are saying NO to sharia. We do not advocate violence. We do not intend to deport, and I especiall assure you, I am not a Christian either. I am not affiliated with any religion or ideology. I have read the quran, I have studied two years in a seattle mosque. I have enough information to state this fact: ISLAM IS DANGEROUS

    July 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Nick Rymond

      CONCERNED AMERICAN IS A CHRISTIAN TERORIST

      July 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • timothyn

      The only thing dangerous is the closed minded mentality of people like yourself. You want to ban mosques and prevent muslims from practicing their religion?? After you supposedly studied 2 years in a mosque? Your comments are full of fundamentalist christian thinking - the same one that has murdered more people than all other religions combined.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • William Shelton

      Concerned, you say you studied in a mosque. Although that may be true (which, from your comments, I seriously doubt), you obviously learned NOTHING.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • ohmygod50

      You are dangerous.........

      July 26, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • ohmygod50

      This killer is Christian, and so was Timothy McVeigh......is Christianity evil? Go back to school and get an education. Stop watching Fox Fantasy 'News.'

      July 26, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Larry

      When someone says they are a christian, it does not mean that they are. I suppose that could go for other beliefs as well. The word christian means christ like. If you believe Christ would murder people then obviously you do not know what christian means either. The man in question, like many others wants to side with a belief, probably one he was associated with from youth. Like many others he would like to say it was his belief when it fact it was his personal want. And had nothing to do with belief. In fact it shows he never knew the true belief in Christ. For Christ is the life giver, not life taker.

      July 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  2. Eva from Norway

    I want to say to you in US...dont be afraid of other people or religions..in the the...we search the same...dont blame muslims or others...maybe it is your way of reaction that is the problem?......I say as our prime minister: Evil can kill a person, but he can not destroy a hole nation......

    July 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  3. Jeff Reynolds

    Yes, I do hold all Muslims responsible and accountable for the terrorist activities of other Muslims. My view might be different if the "peace loving" Muslims would stand up and condemn the terrorists for what they are. Muslims must police their own. They must be as vigilant as everyone else against terrorism. Their failure to be serious in taking action against terrorists is why I hold them all... ALL... accountable.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Power Ranger

      true that

      July 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Jim

      Are you a Christian? If yes, why didn't you stop the attacks in Norway?

      Are you an atheist? If yes, why didn't you stop Ted Kaczynski?

      July 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Svetlana

      Maybe you should try speaking to one? It's really not hard.

      Also is it entirely realistic to hold someone responsible for events that happened on the opposite side of the globe, of which they had no involvement or knowledge of whatsoever? How are you any less responsible for the actions of terrorists than the average Muslim? Please, explain

      July 25, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  4. james

    You just have bad apples in every group. Their have been atheist that have done mass shootings, but the headline just doesn't say." MAN THAT BELIEVES IN NOTHING" killed 10 people today.It will just say duranged man kills 10, but if a person has the littleist affilation with any kind of religion, It's christian, muslim, kills 20.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  5. Reagan80

    One white guy acting alone kills 93 and walks away from it. If, as the left wants us to think, the problem ever becomes the average white non-muslim male, we're in big trouble. As a WWII veteran who fought the Germans once said to me: "You've never been to war until you've fought a dedicated white man."

    July 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • shamgar50

      The Left? Get real, and stop worshiping the most brain-dead president we ever had.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • shamgar50

      Ronnie “The Coward of Beirut” Raygun!

      July 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  6. Ilene

    I'll trade you ... I won't blame the Muslims if you don't always rush to blame the Jews or to blame Israel. I am horrified by the events in Norway, and saddened by the speed with which we began to blame Muslims with little facts. Let's turn the table slightly - how quick is the world to believe that the JEWS are responsible for pretty much anything bad. Why is it politically correct to blame Israel or the Mossad for anything bad that happens, but reprehensible when anyone points fingers at Islam. Just consider it.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • KBinMN

      It's easy to understand why Muslims were the initial suspects. If even 1% of Muslims are radical then we have 10 million radicals to deal with. I believe however that more than 1% self-identify as having radical beliefs.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • mk

      Things are changing, now the order of blame should be Christian First, Jew Second and than muslims.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • bernard

      "Politically correct to blame Israel"

      I don't think you understand what PC is. Actual antisemitism is of course wrong but there is equal furor from he Israeli Internet Defense Force if someone so much as implies the Israeli military has done anything illegal, which every country short of the US agrees on. Anyone who isn't an idiot and has studied the matter could tell you that Hamas is comparable to a bee's nest and Israel is the annoying spoiled child with an overbearing parent who kept hitting it and complains why it's getting stung, and its response is to hit more bee's nests in "necessary defense".

      July 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Mycology

      bernard – you're an idiot. And you make your bias and your agenda clear in your descriptions.

      You probably assume anyone who defends Israel is a member of the "Israeli Internet Defense Forces". typical.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  7. Brazil

    No Religion on this earth teach followers to muders .
    All Religions are good but we justify our wrong act ALWAYS as related to religion
    Any gain with this discussion ?

    July 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Reagan80

      Ever read the Koran?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Ali

      Brazil, you are wrong to idolize all religions like this. Some religions are bad, very very very bad.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • richardfromthenorth

      "Ever read the Koran"

      Ever read the bible?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • HereToCorrectYou

      Many religions promote violence as any educated individual can tell you.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Brazil

      I do not believe in bad Religion. I believe in Bad People . OR interest behind showing this good and this bad.
      History is an example .

      July 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • KOWBELLE

      RELIGIONS ARE ABOUT GOOD AND ARE TOLERANT OF OTHER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS...ALL EXCEPT ISLAM. THAT'S BECAUSE ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION. IT'S A CULT!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  8. Frogist

    "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."

    Fantastic sentiment. I agree completely.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Reagan80

      Give me a break. You don't have to disagree with the guy's take on Islam to condemn his murders. The guy is an idiot and he should be drawn and quartered. Try to get an adherent of the "religion of peace" to say that about Muslim atrocities.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  9. Henry

    And this is why it is a short sighted policy to instigate an environment of fear and hatred against a particular group of people based on what a small portion of that group believes and acts on.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • KBinMN

      I'll bet if green cars were involved in 100x the fatal car accidents as opposed to any other color, you'd think twice before buying a green car.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Henry

      KBinMN

      Was that supposed to mean something?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • jiri pinkas

      A small portion if Islam hates non believers?? You are talking about 3 million of the little creeps..
      Not quite a small portion>

      July 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Henry

      jiri

      Even if your numbers are correct it seems that portraying all members of the religion as being part of the approximately .3% that does think that way seems to have had consequences that were not (but should have been) expected.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • HereToCorrectYou

      There are millions of followers of Islam that would happily kill just about everybody commenting here if they were given the opportunity.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  10. PAUL

    the writer is the we are the oh so peacefull front of the islamics, why don't he try and tell that stuff to the thousands of americam and coalition troops and service personal that was slaughtered world wide also in aphganistan and iraq, why don't he tell his muslim brothers to lay down thier weapons and live peacefull with all other peoples? the young norwiegen made a desperate mistake to wake people to the islamic problem assembleing on the horizon, while we do not hate him or approve the actions taken, we should not let his message dye in vain, this is not about christianity our lord does not condone such things , this is such a waste of life, either you convert to islam or you become enslaved , the same future holds for news writers , reporters and politicians , the future you choose for your grand children is in your hands, our condolence to the families of those who lost loved ones,

    July 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Tariq

      Dude, you do realize that America is the one that Invaded these countries? Maybe if we tone down the 'shock and awe' the islamics wouldn't be in such a fighting mood when we role into their country.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  11. james

    No matter what religion, I question anybody who claims to be acting on behalf of God, and fulfilling God's agenda in the world. There is no doubt that most of the world's troubles today are being caused (and often led) by people who claim to be doing God's work. To claim a distinction between Muslims, Christian, Jewish, or any other extremist religious terrorist is somewhat beside the point. Those who are adamantly claiming to be doing God's work are almost always causing trouble.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • HereToCorrectYou

      Amen. If there was such thing as evil, it would be religion. It is the most murderous and destructive force that Earth has ever known.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  12. KBinMN

    Let's have a little perspective. How many Christian fundamentalist terror training camps are there as opposed to Muslim terror training camps? Yes every couple of decades some non-muslim goes off the deep end for whatever reason as opposed to nearly weekly Muslim terror attacks, bombings, etc.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Lenny

      Go to the Southern Poverty Law Center website and look for yourself.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • tom

      What do you expect Muslims to do in response to the injustices that we (USA) and the Israelis (with our support), put upon them? I am not justifying what terrorists do, but it should not be a surprise that a small radical element reacts this way. Painting the whole religion and all Muslims with the same broad brush that you and others here do, shows just how ignorant you are. Educate yourself instead of listening to right wing pundits. think for a change.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • KBinMN

      Tom – I think that the 10% or so that identify with radical Islam equates to 100 million radicals. Let's say it's 1%, that makes it 10 million. That says enough for me.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  13. Power Ranger

    Christian terrorism does not equal to Islamic terrorism. Almost all Christians condemn Christian terrorists. Most Muslims are sympathetic towards Islamic terrorists. 5000 Islamic terrorist acts. 1 Christian terrorist act. All terrorism is bad. Muslims create more problems than any other religion. Just look around.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • bernard

      "Most Muslims are sympathetic to terrorist attacks"

      At first I thought that I'd like you to cite where you found that source, but things pulled from ones rear end are inappropriate on this site.

      Most victims from Islamic terrorist attacks ARE Muslims. In fact the vast majority are.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  14. Concerned America

    allah, no there is a concept. In reading the quran, I see that allah calls for decisive, and violent action against non-believers. ISLAM is not a religion, nor does it meet the criteria of religion. It is a political ideology (Sharia) surrounded by the notion of their god, allah. If you Americans believe in this muslim religion being protected, you are being fooled. Islam is dangerous and subversive by its very nature. All muslims accept the quran. The quran states that conquest of infadels and non-believers is essential. Sharia is to be made a global law....that is what ALL muslims are taught, threrfore, all muslims can be dangerous. Dont be fooled by these Imams, using this terror attack to defocus attention away from them. We are at war with Islam. banthemosque dot com for more information.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • tom

      "We are at war with Islam. banthemosque dot com for more information."

      I am a Christian and I am at war with people like you. Burn in hell, if we don't get u first.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Jodi

      Do you honestly believe that Islam is not a legitimate religion but a political ideology? You could use those same justifications to de-legitimize any religion. The purpose of all holy books are to outline religions law. Every religion has their own set of laws or commandments by which followers are to live by.The Jewish holy book the Torah literally means 'The Instructions' or 'The Laws'.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • KOWBELLE

      IT'S ACTUALLY A CULT. A CULT THAT WORSHIPS THE MOON, SUN AND A BLACK STONE SHAPED LIKE A WOMAN'S PRIVATES. DON'T BELIEVE ME? LOOK IT UP OR WATCH YOUTUBE ON MECCA'S CUBE THEY STOMP AROUND...THEY KISS THIS STONE AND WORSHIP IT!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:18 am |
  15. Adeem Sadiq

    Battle of ideas is paying out neat,
    Innocent blood is filling our streets,
    Don't be sad we can be different,
    As long as you live far from us,
    Don't think it is discrimination or clash of civilizations,
    Because we have put slavery behind,
    We welcome all comers, just not your kind,

    July 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  16. John

    If a Muslim commits a terrorist attack they knew what they were doing. However, if a Christian commits a terrorist attack they were obviously mentally unbalanced.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Cause

      I doubt that, cause this man was well educated, planned all extremely well and survived..that is not to be compared to illiterate religious people who do what a local religious leader tells them is the best to do and promises them Paradise and virgins.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • KOWBELLE

      GOOD POINT JOHN...I'LL ALSO ADD TO IT WHEN MUSLIM THUGS CARRY OUT THEIR PLAN YOU NEVER HEAR THE MEDIA (ARE YOU LISTENING CNN?) TALK ABOUT IT. WHEN THEY DO YOU NEVER HEAR THE WORD "TERRORIST"...A WHITE MAN GOES OFF THE DEEP END AND AUTOMATICALLY EVERY BIAS MEDIA STATION IS CALLING HIM A "CHRISTIAN EXTREMIST"! MAYBE HE'S JUST A DISGRUNTLED CITIZEN FED UP WITH BULLIES IN HIS COUNTRY AND DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE THE GOVERNMENT WAKE UP TO SMELL THE COFFEE...SO HE TAKES CARE OF IT HIMSELF!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  17. Mike

    Question, then... by your tacit approval of this guy's motives, if not his actions, I can assume you all more or less in favor of declaring war on Islam and imprisoning all Muslims presently in the country?

    July 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Reagan80

      How about we just deport them?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Concerned America

      no. No one can approve of deporting all muslims, however, the mosque is used for political purposes, almost wholly. In the mosque I attended, 20 minutes of prayer were followed by 1 hour of political action to impose sharia on Americans. If you do not want to fall prey, you must join banthemosque. We intend to ban all mosques, and not allow any modicom of sharia law being used in America. Americans are being sued in courts all over the land for not allowing muslims special treatment, and the courts will see more of this in the coming weeks. Mark my words, we are being threatened by every mosque in every city in the nation.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • tom

      How about we deport you, "concerned america" with all your friends like rush limbaugh, anne coulter, etc. And you talk about the mosque being used for political purposes – without proof – and write as though its an evil. What about the mega churches and evangelicals who are aligned with the republicans and use church services to drum up support for conservatives? I have heard it with my own two ears fool.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jodi

      Concerned American-
      There are many politicians that are trying (and in some cases have succeeded) to impose their Christian law on the country. How is this any worse or more justified? And i think it's understandable that Mosques are holding meetings and discussions after prayer when they are being attacked on all fronts by intolerant groups like yours.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • nonsceptic

      20 minutes of prayer? HAHAHAHAHA. U never go to mosque!

      July 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  18. skimt

    1 hour after the bomb went off I had enough information pieced together to figure out that the attack was done by a white male of Norwegian descent frustrated at our socialistic liberal democratic government and society. However, no one else seemed able to understand that this was the pattern of a lone white Norwegian, that this was NOT the pattern of muslim extremists.

    Being Norwegian, and witnessing this behavior first hand, I can tell you one thing that's for certain; monkey see– monkey do. And you can't expect anything else from a country that's proud of its extreme left-wing views not only in politics but society as well.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Jonas

      I'm not voting ap (høyre or venstre), but you should be more careful of your thoughts. Dont give this man any sympathy whatsoever, and be grateful that you live in this country. After all, a huge portion of our population votes for left parties, and that is their right. And even our right parties have many socialistic elements, compared to that of the US. Stand with your country instead of this sick try to give him any sympathy at all. You may vote, or even start your own party, if you want changes. However, most norwegians like the safety and freedom we have trough our welfare state, so it will be hard for you to change. But you might want to move to another place, if taking care of each other disgusts you so much.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  19. Nick Rymond

    ITS AMAZING ON HOW NOBODY WHO IS AGAINST ISLAM ADMITS HOW BAD U.S. FOREIGN POLICY HAS CAUSED 90% OF TERRORIST KILLINGS. FOR EXAMPLE WE INVADED IRAQ FOR WHAT AGAIN? 9/11? WRONG. IRAQ HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. SO WE GO IN CAUSE OVER 200,000 INNOCENT PEOPLE TO DIE, HAVE 4000 US SOLDIERS DIE, SPEND 1 TRILLION DOLLARS FOR WHAT AGAIN??? AND WE EXPECT PEOPLE TO LIKE US? WE CREATED OSAMA, WE CREATED SADDAM, WE SUPPORT ISRAEL TO KILL MUSLIMS. WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT LOVE AND PEACE. WE NEED TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND BLAME OURSELVES FOR MUCH OF WHAT IS WRONG IN THIS WORLD. NOT THE MUSLIMS. AND BY THE WAY WE ARE AND WILL CONTINUE TO PAY THE PRICE FOR OUR MISTAKES. OUR ECONOMY AND SOCIAL INSTABILITY IS RAPIDLY DEPLETING.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Mycology

      so, instead of supporting Israel to kill muslim terrorists, you'd rather we support muslim terrorists to kill israelis?

      sorry bud, I can go to israel and be myself without any fear of persecution or harassment – where else is that true in the middle east? No where.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Cause

      he balmed the socialist, cause in Norway, this is a small and very close group, realted, here a link, in Englsih, a Norwegina newspaper publsihed befote the attacks on the island;

      http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/07/21/labours-summer-camp-opens/

      quote: n island in the Tyrifjord that’s often viewed as an incubator for future Labour Party leaders. Detractors call it a breeding ground for a relatively small clique of would-be power mongers.
      . and
      Vårt Land, however, recently put another slant on the Utøya camp, reporting that the Labour Party historically is run by a tight network of politicians linked by family relations, marriage and friendships who also have a tendency to take on key roles not only in government but in business and Norway’s powerful bureaucracy as well.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  20. Cause

    he even wrote 1500 pages and a real islam terrorist would get killed, to enter paradise, he did not ..he handed himself over..so he could enjoy the ego-show, its a plain narcist to the extreme. He uses god , but he did not wanted to die., this says a lot.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:42 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.