July 25th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

My Take: Norway attacks show why you can't #blamethemuslims

Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and Executive Director of the school's Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

In the immediate aftermath of 1995’s Oklahoma City bombing, much of the news media rushed to suggest that a Muslim, or at least a Middle Eastern connection, was behind the attack.

News reports on television and in print featured Middle East terrorism experts claiming the Oklahoma City attack echoed a World Trade Center bombing two years earlier and that it contained parallels to recent Mideast attacks.

The FBI picked up Ibrahim Ahmad, a Jordanian American, for questioning in an initial dragnet.

Does 'Christian fundamentalist' label fit Norway terror suspect?

Of course, it turned out that the attacker was homegrown and named Timothy McVeigh, not a Muslim.

Sixteen years later, not much has changed.

The tragic events that took place in Norway on Friday provoked initial accusations against Muslims worldwide. Of course, that proved to be the farthest thing from the truth.

Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed bomber and shooter in this horrendous act, was not motivated by the teachings of Islam, but by the teachings of those who oppose Islam.

A 1,500-page manifesto that appears to be written by Breivik is an anti-Islamic tirade.

Who is Anders Behring Breivik?

“Since the creation of Islam in the 7th century and to up to this day, the Islamic Jihad has systematically killed more than 300 million non Muslims and tortured and enslaved more than 500 million individuals,” it says.

“Since 9/11 2001, more than 12, 000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred,” it continues. “… This trend will continue as long as there are non-Muslim targets available and as long as Islam continues to exist.”

An inappropriate response to Norway’s acts of violence would be the condemnation of Christianity, or a claim that religion itself breeds violence and hatred, though the manifesto repeatedly invokes the defense of Christianity as a primary reason for violently defeating multiculturalism and combating the “Islamic colonization” of Europe.

The expectation shouldn't be that white Christian males should now be scrutinized at airports or profiled by TSA workers. It's wrong when it happens to Muslims and it would be just as wrong if it happened to anyone else.

A more appropriate response would be to expand the conversation around terrorism and violent extremism beyond Islam and the Muslim community. The Norway attacks highlight why congressional hearings should not be held on solely on radicalization in the Muslim community, but should focus on radicalization more broadly.

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It's also imperative that training for law enforcement and other governmental offices on Islamic doctrine and law not to be conducted by those who present the normative understanding of Islam to be something that is radical. Our focus should be the safety of all citizens in any country from every act of violence or terrorism.

By cultivating a narrative that says Islam is the problem, we keep ourselves from maintaining that focus. All terrorist acts stem from an idea that it's OK to resort to violence in order to get what you want; that it's OK to kill to get the kind of world that you would like; that if we disagree, we cannot co-exist peacefully.

Over the weekend, #blamethemuslims became a trending topic on Twitter. The purpose of the hashtag was not to blame Muslims for the Norway attack, but show how Muslims are unfairly blamed and singled out regularly these days. The tragic events in Norway remind us that not all terrorists are Muslim and there is no reason that all Muslims should be treated like they are.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Norway. May God make things easy for them and grant us all the strength and courage to stand up against those who preach intolerance and hatred, even if they look like us, align politically with us, or practice the same religion we practice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khalid Latif.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Interfaith issues • Islam • Opinion • Terrorism

soundoff (2,486 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    If not the muslims then. Who it is there people. They are the ones responsible

    July 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  2. DD

    There's wackos in EVERY group. Don't deceive yourself about "Them vs Us". It's worse.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  3. Peace

    I am scared by islamic terror. How I can fight agaist jihadists? Help me

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

      Join a right wing organization. The new one ready to take over the world is the USSR . Universal Scientific Social Rationalists. This is under the radar of any government or anti right watch group. Watch out world here they come.
      You ain't seen nothing yet.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • BG

      @ illuminati

      Big mouth. Thanks a lot. Now we'll have to moveour meetings from the Newark Pizza Hut buffet on Tuesday.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  4. JohnLI

    Muslims should be living among themselves. It cannot get any simpler than that.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • mullah hajdar

      and christians too

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

      and Christians too so they could do some shooting practice on there fellas, the one did in Norway.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • US Centrist

      No, organized religion should be discouraged until we as a global society eliminate it. Before I continue, I am NOT an atheist, and I dislike their own version of 'dogma'. Muslims ARE living among themselves in concentrated areas, it's called the ****ing Middle East. And you know what? It's not good enough for them. They have to spread and propogate their word and their religious beliefs as law to the rest of the world. So do the Christians...and it's not good enough for them not to 'spread the word'. I think it's good to have ideas about spirituality...but communing and discussing things as if the rest of the world should believe them has done nothing throughout history but produced BAD results.

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

      Christians founded this country so I suggest the muslims go back to theirs.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  5. Anti-Taqiyyah

    muslim opportunist!

    July 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  6. George

    i love Islam.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  7. bob

    this guy is a christian terrorist and thats it

    July 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  8. Maxx

    Well of course this is written this way;

    Let's tally the numbers –

    Muslim radical extremist attacks = 100's
    Out of mind, disillusioned "hero of Western Civilization," attack = 1

    This article appears to be a preemptive proposition whose time is a wee bit immature.

    Nice try, but too predictable, expected this rhetoric several days ago.

    Good evening.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  9. illuminati

    muslims are guilty of everything that is evil.
    If the government makes it illegal to burn a koran we can burn it in our minds.
    If we have one billion people burning the koran in their minds at the same time that is powerful.
    If we all imagine the face of mohammed showing the face of a pig and a billion people do that at the same time that is extrordinarily powerful and no one can stop us.
    We will overcome.
    To the RIGHT. To the RIGHT. Stand up and fight.

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

      you fought and lost.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • bob

      i am saying this to Roy Islam dosent say that Christians and jews as pigs it says that christians and jews are people of the book try to figure that out ok

      July 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Adil

      your name tells alot about you

      July 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  10. sapsxy

    Tell Saudi Arabia to open its doors to all religion-otherwise' SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE .AND " F" off from western countries!!!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Aruna

      You are right. I have many known people in the ME countries as immigrant workers. Most of them are professionals. The host countries treat them like slaves. Moslem Agents rip off the applicants of large sums of money which have to be raised by selling property, jewelry or by borrowing. The domestic workers are subject to torture. Some countries allow them to work only up to 6 years in fear of them rooting themselves. So why should the Western countries keep an open door policy when their own rulers and God Fathers don't want them., Proof? 'The Arab Spring'.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  11. Havoc29

    Coptic Christian churches being burned and member persecuted in the wake of "peaceful" democratic demonstrations in Egypt, non-Muslims being butchered in Nigeria by Muslims, Darfur and the creation of a new independent South Sudan because of Muslim thugs in the north killing non-Muslims, countless bombings over two decades by Muslim co.ck roaches, a war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan because of radical Muslims and CNN labels these isolated incidents.
    Yet one white guy kills some people because he doesn't like Muslims and CNN rallies behind the Muslims and suspects some kind of radical Christian cabal that must be wiped out. Be just a little consistent CNN, don't make your bias so obvious.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Concerned America

      we are not engaged in battle with coptic christians. We are in a war with Islamic radicals. They are real, and they exist. Sharia Law is being sought in America. Therefore, we look right now to the muslim connection in all recent terror attacks. banthemosque dot com is a good place to begin your research. Islam is dangerous. Dont keep looking back to crimes committed in gods name over the centuries....we know god and religion are dangerous. However, the big threat right now, in our world, is Islam

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

      I am Orthodox. I know the moslems are the problem. The Orhtodox need to stand up and take over the world. It will be a better place once we make it RIGHT.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  12. Vegard

    The last three days, I've observed that multicultural Norway is one united culture when we ask ourself about the value of human life, and that the christian history – on the same level as islamic history – can be misused as a reference in the exuse of horrific, violent actions.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  13. Roy

    Islam refers to christinas and jews as apes and pigs . What good can come from that ?

    July 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • aber

      if you have never read the Quran front to back, you should not open your mouth! it just makes you look stupid

      July 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Shaziashaza

      It's actually the other way around, Islam teaches equality, tolerance , black or white, Christian or a Jew. I have heard different stories about bible though

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

      cause u are a pig and monkey

      July 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Adil

      how could you say such a thing??!!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  14. Adil

    wooow so many stupid comments here, I really fell sorry for you because you don't have an opinion.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  15. adam

    if they open that mosque near ground zero or that sharia HQ in tennessee, I'm guessing we'll all be commenting in the near future about another 'white christian fundamentalist'...

    July 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Concerned America

      join us at banthemosque dot com. we will acheive our goals of stopping any special treatment of muslims, and end the mosque and dangers of Islam

      July 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  16. TruthSpeaker

    The way Muslims are trying to take mileage out of what happened in Norway to show the world that Islam is not the only bad thing in the world, is in fact hurting their goodwill even more. Sane thing for them would have been to SHUTUP and let the world decide..

    July 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • Concerned America

      I found this Imams article in very bad tatse as well, and shame on him for using this as a forum for his bad public relations. Islam is dangerous, today as yesterday. banthemosque

      July 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  17. jwb

    Sorry, but your ISLAMIC religion is spreading hate. Tell me, how many Islamic controlled nations really allow FREEDOM for Christians and other religions? Answer: NONE. Tell me. What religious group does nothing but sit idly by while terrorist cells pushing the "Jihad" movement only grow stronger each day.

    The day I see Islamic clerics and their followers put an end to the silly warfare religious beliefs will be the day I will change my opinion. Until then, I simply see a warrior based religion.

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

      there is, malaysia, maldives, indonesia.. and many more perhaps 🙂
      chill man

      July 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  18. Mike A, CO

    Radical terrorism didn't blow up the Trade Center buildings; radical Muslims did. It's a religion and a culture lost in the 14th century with no hope of moving forward. I am still awaiting a Muslim leader who will apologize for 9/11 without adding a half-dozen qualifiers afterwards.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  19. Buddy R

    The writer of the article is a Muslim an is lying about Christianity. There is no way anyone could honestly think the man is a Christian if they know anything about the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity is about loving God and loving your fellow man. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian.

    The man did not follow the teachings of Christ and therefore can't be called a Christian by any rational honest person. Of course anti-theists abound with their preaching of hate and intolerance of theistic religions on this website.

    The Bible states that anyone who hates or murders is not a Christian. Jesus said his followers (Christians) keep his commandments. Jesus said to love, do good to, and pray for even one's enemies.

    John 14:21 King James Version (KJV)
    21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

    1 John 4:20 King James Version (KJV)
    20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

    1 John 3:15 King James Version (KJV)
    15Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

    Matthew 5:44 King James Version (KJV)
    44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    Luke 6:46 King James Version (KJV)
    46And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

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

      Ok, you're an idiot. Second worst thing to Islam is this guy.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Ron

      no adam.... he's not.

      anyway.... thanks for this post.... im enlightened....

      July 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Dan

      Why is he an idiot Adam? He's telling the truth.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • US Centrist

      Muslims, Christians, any organized religion that pushes its faith as right, and with a 'believe or burn' message needs to back off and leave the rest of the world alone. Organized religion was used as a base for morality and standards to keep people in line. Today we have laws. Disclaimer, and I am not an atheist, I believe in letting people believe what they want to believe. But pushing it on others and giving them no choice... is outdated and wrong.

      Muslims know this, the extremist ones just don't care.

      And to any Christians that want to call me out on that, remember John 3:16. God gave his only *begotten son* to the world ...not organized religion. That's a human invention.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  20. illuminati

    It is the non-radical groups that the government needs to focus on. They have been festering in the background for years. Soon they will explode with a vengence. No one would suspect!

    July 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Leigh

      I'm not sure I quite agree with your stance on the non-radicals exploding. Tim McV, yeah, true, that freak in AZ, you bet . this guy? It is kinda of weird. However, finding out how peaceful Muslims must feel, is new to me. "Radical Christians"? I thought of them-there as those snake-handlin' Christians. Turnabout is fair play. Well the KKK were christian radicals right? Or were they more Aryan/Fascist types? The Crusades? I say no more. I'm a Christian and I know some bad shyte has been done in my religion's name. I just have never heard the term "Christian Radical". Kinda stings.

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

      It is the media that profiles Islam. Along with the TSA, CIA and FBI who are always quoted about defending us against this mythical beast while babies, the elderly and the culture's weakest are humiliated in airports because of your very complaint. Hell, I am on the lookout for pyromaniac Latinos because of McCain... best to say that any human is a threat, and leave it at that, or should I say "patriots" are the most dangerous.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Leigh

      Oh. And I am a Tea-Party supporter, and 9-12 group. Not all Conservatives hate Islam.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:45 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.