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. Mike

    Your point is well taken in this essay. American non-muslims still have confusion and mistrust of Muslims because of things theyr are told the Muslim holy Quran states, like killing infidels and such. I don't need to repeat the claims. You know of what I speak. Until American non-muslims can understand islam better and until Islam gets a "New testament" that eliminates the whole kililng of non-muslims way of thinking I think that mistrust will continue. My hope, as a Buddhist, is that all people can live in peace and enjoy their belief systems or non religious belief systems (BCA) and just enjoy their lives. Its not going to happen over night but I look forward to it happening some day.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Rick

      Guys, we could have a long discussion on this but I hardly think one local policemans off the cuff remark makes any difference at all. This guy was mnot a christian, period and end of that thread. The problem is now that there are so many of you out there that desperately desire to marginalize christianity. If you are truly familiar wit hthe bible you will know that there are zero directives to kill anyone. And if you truly know the koran and it's supportign texts, it specifically calls out the killing of infidels. Try all you like to compare the 2 and you will fail. Likely those desperately seeking to tie these tragic events to christianity have a persoanl agenda and seek to further it by association. Not going to work folks.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  2. camnc4me


    July 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  3. Elliott

    Why can't any mainstream media acknowledge that muslim extremists terrorize almost every day, and are sponsored by governments. That is a huge world problem. That cannot be compared to isolated nutcases. They will always happen. There is not a "Christian Jihad". There are not Christians around the world wanting to destroy millions of Jews. This argument is so terribly weak. Pull it together.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • chris

      My thoughts exactly.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • Shahriarzadeh

      Muslims want to Destroy the Jews? You are Hilarious buddy. Did you forgot Hitler's religion? The killer of millions of Jews.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • ari



      it's not 1940 anymore.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • CNNcluuuelesss....

      Umm... Hitler was inspired by the Grand Mufti of Egypt! Who was of course... A Muslim!...Read your history!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  4. reda

    Well as an American Muslim I respect and honor this country,God Bless America.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Shahriarzadeh

      God Bless America and May God Show The Right Path to The Lost Americans.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  5. CNNcluuuelesss....

    Islam is a cult created by a psychopath. It cannot be reformed. It must be eradicated. Islam must be eradicated not because the Quran says Earth is flat or the shooting stars are missiles that Allah fires at the Jinns who climb the heaven to eavesdrop on the conversation of the exalted assembly. These stupid tales could even amuse us. Islam must go because it teaches hate, it orders killing of non-Muslims, it denigrates women and it violates the human rights.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • RangerDOS

      You sound just like Hitler talking bout the Jews – did you copy this directly from his Nuremberg speech, great translation.


      July 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • buster

      Well guess who the real hater is? It's you,and as a mother I'd teach my children to respect people no matter what race, religion,or heck no matter if that persons an alien. And I would never go around preaching false lies about someones beliefs.Besides it's none of my bussiness to know what you believe in. For me is my beliefs and for you is your beliefs.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • CNNcluuuelesss....

      Huh?? Read the Quran dummy.. Jeesh... It is simple!! Islam is sick..

      July 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • Shahriarzadeh

      Go read Quran and then leave comments. Earth is Flat and the Shooting Stars are Missiles that's what your Illitrate Dad told you about Islam, not the Quran.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  6. chesterL

    Religion is the problem!!! Time for modern societies to wake up and leave these out-dated myths in the past!!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Response

      Some religions much more than others.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • FrankinNJ

      Yes please lets go back to the Godless Communists who only killed hundreds of millions. Stop religion!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • chris

      No, religion is not the problem, except maybe you could make an argument that islam is.

      Countless Atheists, like the Unabomber, are terrorists as well and have killed many people. It's people that are the problem.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • RF

      Ah yes, Godless Communism was just so much better in the USSR, et al, and is just so darn lovely in China.

      Ever read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? It's one of the classics.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  7. Muneef

    Anders Behring Breivik
    from the article understand following;
    "Impression is that Religion is used more as a vehicle to unjustly assign some religious moral weight," to support political views.

    "Europe's population will be Muslim and colored by 2050 "unless those from European Ancestries manage to defeat the ruling Multiculturalist Alliance."

    That is being said being discussed as Intentions by certain groups.


    Let us here young or old look in deep thoughtfully into what has Mr.Anders Behring Breivik of Norway,Oslo has made in a form of a "Bloody Protest" attracting media attention to what he calls for in a Racist and Religious manner
    As an Arabic Muslim personally i wouldn't think or like to call for any similar ideas that are Evil Doing..! There your are supposed to be the free world, where justice can be found or established through advanced legal systems it is your right.! It was only countries as yours has brought and taught us the free democracy's that we might enjoy,maybe less in some things but at least better than nothing !
    A call as such judged at closed doors from people and media in an alarming and serious issue that might bring changes in the areas of European ancestry for non European ancestry Muslims and colored races..as to immigration and residency  permits.
    Other than that this will alarm other nations in and out of the intentions fora  Neo Crusaders movement !?.

    You were right about blaming the Religion as source of disputes and conquer but never as Racism that was not in mind?! What about being in many colors,cultures branches of Christian faiths ?!

    The Prophet Jesus (saws) with the Torah and Gospel has come into breaking all the walls into bringing the Children of Israel as being Equal among them selves and with other races in their faith or if any other faiths,bringing them into admiting and the worshiping of the oneness of God. 

    Then came The Prophet Muhammed (saws) with the Quran calling to destroy the Gods of Pagans as Prophet Abraham did before towards uniting the people under one umbrella of worship rather than each or per group having their own God or many Gods to worship.
    Prophet Muhammed (saws) in the name of Islam has bought the slaves who wanted Islam from their rightful owners and freed them to become in islam as equal as any other muslim.

    The prophet in Islam has saved the baby born females from being buried alive by their pagan parents in Mecca which was out of poverty or shamefulness of being taken kidnaped as hostages or slaves by other stronger attacking tribes.
    Females were made from being "Zero" into being equal "Half a Man". 
    Islam has created a multi culture integrated nation of all races all as equal.

    The prophet of Islam has made treaties with other heavenly holy booked faiths to live,work,trade on islamic lands togather in peace..achieving some form of Multi cultures in "AlMadinah Al Munwara". 

    Both Messengers of God had made what ever right deeds that they had  called for but until their deaths what has men done is called Igtihad "diligence by men...and no one was/is perfect...      

    Therefore seems we are at stage of choice between choosing to live by treaties or build towards confrontations wether we as religious living under secular systems or under Religious systems. I would rather look forward to living in peace by the will of The Merciful GOD...  Peace

    July 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • ari

      "Females were made from being "Zero" into being equal "Half a Man"."

      you know your worldview is messed up when the only thing that makes it look progressive is the fact that 6th-century bedouin tribes in arabia were marginally less oppressive.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • RF

      "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)

      "Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given ... until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Surah 9:27-)

      "...make war on the leaders of unbelief...Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them..." (Surah 9:12-)

      "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)

      "Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it." (Surah 2:216)

      "Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (Surah 48:29)

      "Shall the reward of goodness be anything but good?...Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents...They shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets...Blessed be the name of your Lord..." (Surah 55:52-66-)

      July 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  8. puffyshirt

    religion should step back and take a look at itself. christianity isn't peaceful, nor is islam. maybe, just maybe, those writings shouldn't be taken as philosophies to live by alone.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Response

      Um no one is blaming the muslims for this tragedy. Staw man alert straw man alert!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Response

      Also christianity is peaceful, this dude is obviously a mental case.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Muneef

      Say rather few pretending to be religious of Islam or Christainity or any other religion while they are purely serving a certain propaganda disguised to have accusations pointed to others while they are behind every job carried on by individuals or groups...

      July 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  9. World citizen


    July 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Muneef

      Not Hitler alone but rather any White...!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  10. Abdul Ameer

    This is pure pro-Moslem propaganda. Of course, Islam is the problem. It was THE problem, and it remains THE problem. Breivik did not represent Christianity, and he was not even close to being a "Christian fundamentalist"; there is no indication that he was a religious Christian at all; he did not quote anything from the Bible to justify his act; there are no Christian churches that applaud the murders he committed. Contrast that to the Moslem world where, to this day, Bin Laden has hundreds of MILLIONS of followers according to reputable polls. Moslem terrorists, who are infinitely more numerous, all quote from the Koran and the sayings of Muhammad to justify their acts. Islam is NOT a religion like other religions; Islam is an IDEOLOGY - totalitarian (all encompassing Sharia law), imperialist ("Make war on the non-Moslems UNTIL Islam reigns supreme in the world."), filled with violent religious bigotry, suppression of women and anti-Semitism.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Muneef

      What Abdul Hameer are you?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  11. chris

    This guy way off base and trying to distract from the real issues. Yes, what happened in Norway was a tragedy. But this guy was a Timothy McVeigh, a lone wolf nutjob who killed alot of people.

    This is drastically different from the networks of Muslims around the world, like Al Qaeda and others, than ruthlessly coordinate large scale attacks. They are bent on destroying Western civilization. They have whole countries that are Pan-Islamic and call for the elimination of all non-Muslims. We are talking apples and oranges.

    Islamic terrorism is the #1 threat in the world today by far. There is no doubt about that, ask any security expert.

    This is a lame, childish lefty article in my opinion.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • saaaly

      cnn is the number #2 threat to the world

      July 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Derek Monjeau

      thank you, huge difference between organized terror and lone wolf. For eample, what can we do with terror networks; try to destroy the "organization' ; what can we do with the lonewolf, sadly nothing.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  12. DB

    I give up, my posts are not allowed on this site so evidently a moderator has placed me on suspension.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  13. NYC=51stSTATE

    If you equate an attack to amount of deaths then lets count:

    Christian terrorism:
    WW1= millions dead (not terrorism?)
    WW2= millions dead (not terrorism?)
    Bush wars= millions dead (not terrorism?)

    Muslim terrorism:
    9/11= 3000 deaths
    other random acts= thousands more dead

    Well all of you who like to mention that the majority of terrorist attacks may well as be muslim, the stark fact is that Christian sponsored terrorism is very efficient at killing people and takes the prize for most deaths. I mean after all, Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each YEAR on the military!

    Now can you repeat your filtered facts again but this time try not to forget the part that mentions the amount of casualties!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • ari

      the world wars were not for religious reasons. the wars in the middle east are also not for religious reasons, despite the infowars nuts who think they are. a more apt comparison would perhaps be the crusades.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • chris

      You need to learn what terrorism is. World wars are not considered terrorism, though they are destructive. There is no Christian terrorist movement, or Jewish terrorist movement, that threatens the West. That is strictly Islamic terrorism.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • david

      I did not know Muslims didnt kill people before September 11th 2001.

      Thank you for that history lesson.

      Also the millions dead you refer to in WW2 were jews hated by muslims. I am sure many were not weeping for that

      They are obama's wars now, he has had an opportunity to completely end them and has chose not to do so.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Abdul Ameer

      This is pure BS. Neither WWI nor WWII were Christian wars; they had nothing to do with Christianity.

      As for the toll which Islam has taken on the world, it is closer to 300 MILLION since Muhammad started killing the Jews of Arabia and his successors proceeded to murder non-Moslems by the millions, especially the Hindus. For 1400 years, Moslems have been killing non-Moslems in the name of Islam. The most popular manual of Sharia law says: "Jihad means to make war on non-Muslims." You can't get any plainer than that!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Lboe

      Hi there is a difference between war and terror. And there is a difference between Christians and Christian nations. About 10,000 killings by Muslims inspired by or rooted in the Koran since 9/11. What more do
      You need to know?!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • saaaly

      you may want to stop doing drugs, you're could end up like amy whinehouse

      July 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Culturalist

      Islam: North Africa Millions Dead
      Islam: Middle East; Millions Dead

      July 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Omair

      Ari, the world wars had nothing to do with religion? Are you really that naive?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Shahriarzadeh

      Oh so world wars are not considered terrorism because no Muslim country participated. Now i Got the Definition of World War and Terrorism.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • CNNcluuuelesss....

      Wow... It is amazing the mind of a Muslim!.. You are clueless!.. Islam has murderered more human beings than ALL wars combined.. And read up on WWII.. Hitler was inspired by the Grand Mufti of Egypt... Who was of course.. A MUSLIM WHO HATED JEWS!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • sagar

      What a logic!!! No wonder why u guys are still in medieval age. Dude... world war 1 and 2 are not religious wars... Unfortunately Islam has a very bad and violent history of destroying other religion ( like killing non-muslim people, destroying their temple, forcing Islam on them)... that is the main reason why most of the non-muslim people don't like Muslims. Because of this bad history it is very difficult to create positive image of Islam. And terrorist organizations are making matter even worse.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  14. World citizen


    July 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  15. CNNcluuuelesss....

    This is why I DONT trust CNN. They have too many bias reporters. This person knows very well that most of the terror caused in the last 1400 years was because of the teachings from their insane prophet. Islam IS the problem... If we sit back and let it come into our shores, its our fault! All we have to do is look at Islamic countries to see the result and morons like this author is trying to lie to us and hide the truth! Thank goodness we still have freedom to search and learn the truth or morons like this author would have us stoned for telling the truth....

    July 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • jim

      the crusades
      the spanish inquisition
      the genocide of all native americans in the name of "converting them to christianity"
      the witch hunts
      the conflicts between catholics and protestants

      clearly you have NO idea what you are talking about.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Das Misanthrope

      There are two people standing behind you and one of them keeps slapping you in the head. You turn around and ask which one did it. The person on your right smiles and says "I did it." This repeats for nine slaps. After the tenth slap, you finally tell the person on the right to stop hitting you. He says "What makes you think I slapped you? Why do you single me out?"

      Would it make sense that we assume the person on the left is the culprit after the person on the right admits to slapping you nine times before? That's why most people assume that it's a fundi-islami-terrorist when one of these events occurs.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • CNNcluuuelesss....

      This was all in response to Islamic conquests by swords.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  16. FrankinNJ

    Yes and when a man tried to blow up a car bomb in times square, Mayor Bloomberg and others first pointed the finger at a right-wing nut who didn't like Obama care. Boo-hoo the man turned out to be a Muslim. Yes please lets all equate what 2-4 attempts over 20 years at terrorism from right-wing nut jobs, to what, lets pick the last 3 years alone and equate the number of Muslim backed terrorism deaths and attempts, then we can argue HARD facts equations and not emotions. Also a Christian terrorist? Have you read the man's manifesto? Was he screaming Jesus hu akkbar, while he killed people? Hardly not. Acting as a fascist, yes. Acting as a Christian motivated terrorist, no. Good luck and keep trying to skew the facts.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  17. AesopsRetreat_Forum

    It wasn't a Muslim just ONCE?? Are you stoned? Are you Drunk?

    ONE time it wasn't a Muslim terrorist and suddenly you have reason to say SEE ??
    M O R O N

    July 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Response

      Yeah it's kind of a cheap shot on his part. This one time it wasn't, the other 99.9% of the time it is. Wooptido.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  18. joe

    It we look at the history Cristianity was spread thru "sword" – history repeat itself until now Christian nations imposed will to spread chrisitanity by killing innocent civilians attacking/invading countries. We should remember that the author of terrorism is Christianity.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • ari

      what ideology was NOT spread that way?

      July 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • AesopsRetreat_Forum

      You know absolutely nothing of Christianity. Just as you know absolutely nothing of the Crusades. Look it up some day. Then look up "Murderers of the World." Then live with your discovery....

      July 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • wes

      Conquest era, califate, sharia law. They're the evil ones.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • AesopsRetreat_Forum

      Try this : http://www.aesopsretreat.com/forum/index.php?topic=47276.msg395751#msg395751

      July 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Elvis

      Joe- we don't know where you live but if it's in the US, please don't let us stop you from leaving to live in a better place. I'll help pack the U-haul buddy.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  19. ari

    i'm glad that we can all take this tragedy as an opportunity to further our political and religious agendas. bravo, sir.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Eron

      People like you are the ones that first came to the conclusion that the norway attack was probably from a muslim group,
      YOU ARE A GREAT AMERICAN SIR!!! The difference between americans and Norweigians is that in Norway they wait until the facts come out before they start blaming any particular group. That's right sir in Norway you are still INOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!

      July 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  20. Jana

    As more muslim women become involved in their own rights around the world and fight against the men who impose their own version of "law", the better off the world will become. As a woman, I am disgusted by what I have seen in my travels to muslim nations...just disgusted. People are going to get more aggravated by some of these regimes and the liberal politics in their nations as time goes on.....it is happening now....

    Bless the people of Norway and their families......

    July 25, 2011 at 9:37 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.