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. PAUL

    An amazingly naive view of the world. Point #1: he is not a Christian. Jesus NEVER would have done this nor would He ever lead those who follow Him to do this. Point #2: there are lunatics on every issue the world deals with. Point #3: this opinion completely ignores the focus, size and ideological belief of 10% of the Muslim world, roughly 100 million radicals. Compare that threat to the size and numbers of this type of lunatic. Lastly: your opinion would be similar to saying that Hitler and the growth of the Nazi party should be taken along side of British Imperialism as equal issues. WAKE UP

    July 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • mullah hajdar

      than none of americans are christians.you are fascists

      July 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • FMEN

      "10% of the Muslim world" is radicals is a Beck fact i.e. a total and complete lie. YOU need to WAKE UP! YOU, PAUL, are the NAIVE one! The prophet Mohammad would never condone or promote or allow the killing of innocent human beings or even the women and children of the enemy by his followers. However, I am skeptical that you are as misinformed as you sound. I wouldnt be surprised that you know exactly what you are doing. If this is the case than you are a fool for God is ever watching.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Leigh

      mullah hajdar, I'm sorry you feel that way my brother.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  2. up1652

    I see no tie to religon of any sort with this lunatic. He has not spoken or written of anything except his dislike for islam. He has no church affiliation, or anything to tie him to a church. But to the writter of this article, there is no commandment in the bible to go forth and kill the infidel as there is in your koran. No Christian sharia.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • flying3

      actually there is, it says something like this "If any man, women, or child hat worshiped other gods before me. Thou shalt stone them for their crimes. I can give you the exact text if you want, but I don't like it when people think the bible is the only peaceful book. Jesus himself was been nice, but God in the Old Testament was a mean SOB who used violence as a tool

      July 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Juan

      Have you ever read the Qur'an? Of course you haven't. Please name the Surah that states that followers of Islam have to "kill the infidel" or anything like it. You do understand that the Qur'an recognizes everything that is stated in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible but it just states that Muhammed was a prophet after Jesus, right? You do understand that the Qur'an preaches peace, right? You do understand that there are sects who purposely misinterpret small sections of the Qur'an to twist it to their will, right? You do understand that is exactly what happens all the time with the Bible, right? Christian extremists do horrible things every single day in the name of God yet you say nothing.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  3. Keith Alaska

    Piffle. Everyones 1st thought when they heard of this tragedy was that it was carried out by Muslims. The author no doubt has, in the trash bin on his computer, a half written statement of condemnation and reminder of how Islamic terrorists do not represent Islam. And who could blame him? What does it tell you when a man murders scores of innocent children and the world assumes Muslims are to blame? It tells you we're used to it, its familiar, its what we expect now. When I heard about this I instantly thought of the school in Chechnya. A pretty reasonable correlation.
    Not surprisingly a nanosecond after getting over the shock of it not being Muslims, the opportunistic author went on the offensive, how dare we sully the good name of Islam and jump to a logical conclusion?

    July 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • yfnpb

      incredibly true

      July 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  4. Person of Faith

    Anders wouldn't have felt compelled to go to war against the "multiculturists" for allowing the Islamization of Europe if Muslims weren't attempting to take over Europe and convert it into Eurabia. So, while Muslims weren't the direct and immediate cause of the slaughter in Norway, they certainly, without any doubt, were the UNDERLYING ROOT CAUSE of the trouble. If Muslims would either 1) stay out of non-Muslim countries, or 2) assimilate, like all the other groups before them, there wouldn't be a problem. The problem is that Muslims want to replace all that is good and right in every society with the most evil ideology that the world has ever known. The plain truth is that the civilized world must resist Islam or be destroyed by it.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  5. Ask

    We need to change the definition of terrorism

    July 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  6. T

    " Imam Khalid Latif writes." I'm sorry, did the attacks happen in the US? No? So we should hold hearings on radicalization of people in Norway, but not look at the people in this country? Yeah, thanks Imam. Let's focus on what people are doing in other countries and not in our own.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  7. adam


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

    I think we should have a hearing on the radical Christianist of the GOP. Investigate them Peter King.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • PAUL

      Let me guess, you live in San Francisco

      July 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  9. NYC=51stSTATE

    War is terrorism. Terrorism does not have to have a religous precursor, it is defined as striking fear into the hearts of people by means of violence. Now I don't know about you, but I think if I were an Iraqi, I would consider the US army as terrorists because they bombed the country into pieces and are now illegally occupying my country.

    Don't try to call a war waged by a nation in which people are killed as not being related to terrorism. When you're not looking into the barrell of a gun being pointed at you, it is easy to brush it off as just a defensive act, but when you are at the end of the barrell, just as 9/11 showed, you scream BLOODY TERROR!!

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

    What Christian is that who knows nothing about Christianity other than the crusaders ??

    July 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  11. cornelius

    so we have to wait 15 years between non muslim terrorist attacks to make the point that muslims arent the biggest terrorists on earth? look around the world, hanging 8 year olds, stoning women and the like. it never ends. you can blame israel or the united states, but even if we left every muslim country, this would continue. it always has and always will. the difference between ncveigh and norway, and the muslim problem is huge. some crazy american blows up a building 15 years ago. then muslims blow up civilians all over the world for the next 15 years on every continent. then some psycho shoots people in norway and were supposed to forget that one group of people with the same beliefs for their actions killed hundreds of thousands because the norwegian guy wasnt a muslim? muslims are committing terrorist acts as we speank and they were doing it the day of the norway tragedy. look at reality instead of blinding yourself because you are a muslim.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  12. spr

    A muslim man told me that young muslim men are encouraged (and apparently even paid in some developing countries) to marry non-muslim women. The wife is then converted to islam. This increases the muslim population at the expense of other religions because there is now one fewer mother for the other religions. At first, I thought he was bluffing. However, I'm seeing this with increasing regularity - especially in countries like India where there is already a large muslim population. If you draw out a heredity tree diagram, it is easy to see their rationale.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Juan

      And what was the Christian religion doing when it was the same age as Islam is today? Oh that's right, The Crusades. Some of the worst atrocities our world has ever seen have been carried out by men waving their sword under the banner of God.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • spr

      I forgot to mention – in some of these countries, if a muslim woman marries outside her community. The woman, her husband, and her husband's family are persecuted and sometimes even killed.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • up1652

      Hey Juan, does 1500 years ago ring a bell ? The world was in the dark ages. You and the islamists still are.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Juan

      I'm saying that a budding religion is always going to have extremists. That's the price society pays for a God. No religion is exempt. When more established religions try to oppress a new religion, the extremists will retaliate just like Christians did, just like Shinto did, just like Buddhists did, just like the Hindu did, just like Jewish people did. Just because it happened in a different time doesn't mean the cycle isn't repeating itself. How about learning to not hate just as all religions teach? Or is that part of the Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an, the Gitas not something you live by? Piece-meal Christians who are completely self-righteous and xenophobic, extremists of the worst kind.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  13. Vegard


    Besieged by enemies,

    enter your time!

    During a bloody storm –

    we give you the contrary!

    Maybe you ask in anguish,

    uncovered, open

    what should I fight with

    what are my weapons?

    Here is your protection against violence,

    Here is your sword:

    faith in our lives,

    human dignity.

    For all our present time's sake,

    search it and cultivate it,

    die if you must – but:

    increase it and strengthen it!

    Faced yesterday's grenade

    moving band

    Stop their operations against the death

    stop them with spirit!

    War is contempt for life.

    Peace is to create.

    Throw all your might:

    death will lose!

    Love and enriched with dream

    everything great that was!

    Go for the unknown

    wrest the answer.

    Uninhabited power stations,

    unknown stars.

    Create them, spared the life

    bold brains!

    Noble is the man

    the earth is rich!

    Is this need and hunger

    due to the betrayal.

    Crush it! In life's name

    be wrong to fall.

    Sunshine and bread and spirit

    owned by all.

    Then drop weapons

    powerless down!

    Are we human

    we create peace.

    The person with the right arm

    carries a burden,

    animals and inalienable,

    can not kill.

    This is our promise

    from brother to brother:

    we will be good to

    human soil.

    We will take care of

    beauty, warmth

    as if we bore a child

    gently on the arm!

    July 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • ed


      July 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  14. Notislam

    Right! Blame islam, not moslems. moslems are victims of islam. islam is vile and must be opposed wherever it festers. All moslems should leave islam to rot on the stinking heap of humanity's worst memories along with nazism.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • aber

      you sound exactly like that swine who killed so many in norway... go ahead, hate, your hate will only breed hate!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • AM

      Right after 9/11, it was a crime to even suggest support for the terror act. Today, we have all these sickos trying to comeup with excuses for the actions of a Christian man, rather than focusing on the terror act that this Christian man committed. Stop going in circles and face the reality that this man is a Christian.
      Having said that; I still do not believe that any religon is to blame for the actions of this or any other terrorists. Terrorists have no faith, no matter which faith they claim to belong to!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  15. The truth

    Mossad Involved In Assassination In Norway Before: The Lillehammer Affair

    Note: This is VERY similar to what just happened to the Iran nuclear professor!

    As evidence continues to point to the Mossad/CIA/NATO Operation Gladio network as the real culprits of the Norway terror attacks it is important to note that The Mossad has been involved in killings in Norway before.

    From Wikipedia:

    The Lillehammer affair refers to the assassination by Mossad agents of a Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillehammer, Norway on July 21, 1973.

    The Israeli agents had mistaken their victim for Ali Hassan Salameh, the chief of operations for Black September. Most of the Mossad team were captured and tried for the murder, in a major blow to the intelligence agency’s reputation.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  16. belive

    Maybe you ask in fear,
    uncovered, open:
    with what shall I fight
    what is my weapon?
    Here is your defense against violence
    here is your sword:
    the belief in our life,
    the worth of mankind.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  17. Cecilia dale


    July 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  18. The truth

    As evidence continues to point to the Mossad/CIA/NATO Operation Gladio network as the real culprits of the Norway terror attacks it is important to note that The Mossad has been involved in killings in Norway before.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  19. jay

    I dont think that is correct. People always go with the usual suspect and unfortunately the usual suspect is the muslim terrorist. Taking other examples, whenever a crime takes place, the police first round up the usual suspects, those that fit the profile, before looking elsewhere. That is the way crime detection goes. But having said that, racial profiling is wrong and helps terrorists such as these that do not fit the profile escape the radar.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  20. Chris

    This guy had no ties to religion at all. The fact that he brings up religion in his manifesto has no value as to guessing his personal beliefs and convictions. Christianity is Europe's history and is quoted to justify certain actions but by no means was this man religious. This is just another attempt by the secularists to smear Christianity and religion with a false reputation.

    July 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • chris

      It is a pretty transparent argument from the media though. No one in their right mind that looks at the facts would consider this a Christian "movement" in any way, like what the Islamic terrorist movement is doing. Breivik is an insane nutjob, but he's nothing like the global Muslim terrorist network.

      July 25, 2011 at 9:58 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.