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. Ali

    Ok check here... http://www.threeworldwars.com/overview.htm

    July 26, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  2. Azeem Rathore

    Saudi Arabia is an ultra conservative deprivation of Idlam. Think about this: KINGS are implicitly forbidden in the Quran. Saudi Arabia is ruled by a monarchy. This nation reeks of hypocrisy. The Muslim world understands this. People are asking to search these blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Ignoring their clear bigotry, these laws are not popular and in fact a majority of the population oppose them. It is only the extremist politicians that insist that they be kept. Research Islam and the Five Pillars, and one can begin to understand that Islam is fundamentally and inherently a peaceful and moderate religion–just like Christianity.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Yeah, we know what you mean, that Muslims rather prefer a Caliphate, a global theocracy

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

      Isn't a "Supreme Leader" a King?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Azeem Rathore

      As opposed to what a Christian would want....?
      Naturally I want to spread and educate others about my religion–through dialogue and understanding. That is no different than what a Christian would want.
      Unfortunately the West has always, since the 700s distorted their understanding of Islam. In fact, a French philopsher persuaded the country that Muslims actually worshipped The Prophet as a diety! Of course this has never been true. But the ignorance of the past continues to live today.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Azeem Rathore

      A Supreme Leader is not a King. If you are referring to Iran, again the same true applies. The Iranian government does to follow the Quran as the law of the land. They interpret it and then distort it towards their cultural preferences. The Supreme Leader of Iran has no Islamic basis or Quranic basis. Research before you make inaccurate and bigoted comments please.

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

      Azeem. It is in the Islamic charter to conquer. Dialog is used first to threaten and displace native governance. (Lebanon, Turkey, etc...) When that does not progress as desired; the terrorism, swords, and bombs come out.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Azeem Rathore

      Completely false. I will concede that throughout history some Muslim nations have forced upon conversions to non-Muslims. But this is true of Christianity as well. Especially under the Pope. If you were to deny this then your bias and lack of understanding history is clear. You state generic statements. If dialogue fails, conqueror. Not true. Why then did Muslims control Spain for 700+ years and during that time, Christians and Jews lived peacefully. In fact, once Muslim leaders lost power in Spain, they personally escorted the Jewish people safely to Turkey. Read a book. Not Hannity's manifesto. I am not here to convert you. You, Mike Bell, offer no benefit to humanity. Your ignorance will only blind you unless you read about Islam's history.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • MikeBell

      Azeem, you make my point that rather than inform, the vitriol is brought out to incite and demean. How is calling people bigoted supposed to reinforce the 'peaceful' nature of Islam? The Dali Lama is a better example of a peaceful religious leader.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • Azeem Rathore

      If I have to spell it out:
      One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
      You fall under this category. Indeed, not only is Islam peacefully, but it also teaches Muslims to be intelligent. I just accurately describers your behavior through your comments. Thus, you are a bigot for not expanding your knowledge of Islam, but instead focus on your already false predisposed notions ofma rligon that you have not even scratched the surface of understanding. I am done trying to help you. God is the only one that can do any more.

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

      Azeem, again your lashing out exemplifies what is wrong with Islam.
      Claiming justification because others do it is just a diversion from ones own failings. Two wrongs do not make a right.
      So if you have some enlightening information, peaceful dialog, and respect for others then you would refrain from personal attacks and show the love and peace purported of Islam.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • Azeem Rathore

      Please review my statements. They were not violent or demeaning in any way. Judith from your other comments you do fit the profile of a bigot. If you could prove otherwise this would be appreciated. Otherwise, you really have not read my comments. You seem to just want to bash Islam. If you want some evidence then how about one of the Pillars of Islam: zakat. It is required that every Muslim donate alms to the poor or in other words, offer good deeds to the poor, through charity i.e. food, money, shelter.

      You should actually take time to read the Quran then what some website has to say.
      I will pray for you Mike Bell; not to convert you, but so God can offer his help to bring tolerance into your being.

      God Bless

      ( I have to sleep–I have school tomorrow)

      July 26, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  3. peter smith

    the people of america and europe need to ensure that they keep speaking out,tweeting and blogging about the horrors of isalmic extremism.i have heard too many muslims and socalled 'liberals' over the last few days saying that this is what we have been waiting for,we can now play the sympathy card and act as victims so that the americans can't criticise radical isalm and shariah laws.if we don't speak out now,we'll have shariah laws implemented in america and anyone daring to disagree will immediately be labelled as far right or a neo nazi.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      The tide against Islamofascism has already started, it is only a matter of time when Islam would be judged objectively like all other intolerant ideologies like Communism, Nazism, Fascism and son.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  4. Muhammad Enjoyed Fu#%ing Pigs

    Take your Allah and shove him up your a$$ you filthy wastes of skin. inshallah.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  5. Dearypie

    From the anti-Muslim commentors on this board, you can tell that Breivik has a lot of terrorist sympathizers. What a world we live in when we condone terrorism in ANY form to ANY person.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • MikeBell

      Aren't the gun laws strict enough?
      Just a couple of licensed concealed carry citizens could have stopped the carnage.
      This terror nut only highlights what could soon be happening from the jihadist. He should be put to death; what he did do is raise awareness (to the dismay of the jihadist). Their future targets won't be so soft now that he brought the region to attention.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  6. MikeBell

    Islam is more of a political movement than a religion. Although some political movements have a religious zeal about them. Much like Obama is promoting his Social order religiously.
    Islam is a nation without boarders and should be dealt with like it is a nation. It has declared open war on the U.S. and the 'Free' world. Its claim to protection as a religion is disingenuous.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  7. peace

    2100 comment. go go go..aim to 5000

    July 26, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  8. Chuckie

    Perhaps the real question should be, "why do liberal make every excuse in the book for the unacceptable behavior of Muslims."

    I believe the answer is that liberals are at heart deeply racist. They don't believe Muslims have the ability to act other than they do. They aren't capable of civilized behavior. So WE need to understand them, and overlook their "issues." So we can't say enough bad things about the slave owners in our nation, yet fail to mention the significant role Muslims played in slavery. And in some Islamic nations, slavery still exists.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  9. Ali

    For all peopla read it: http://www.texemarrs.com/112005/codex_magica_black_magic.htm CODEX MAGICA:.. who is who ? wou will much more understanding.. YOU BRAINS are washing....

    July 26, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  10. GoWorld

    Hatred, from whatever source it may originate, Christian, Muslim or otherwise, breeds the sort of violence and destruction we witnessed this past weekend. Muslims are not the enemy. Jews are not the enemy. Christians are not the enemy. Ignorance, hatred and extremeism are, and we must fight against them with education and love.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  11. lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

    in the name of Allah the most Gracious the most Merciful, Unquestionably, for Allah is the pure religion. And those who take protectors besides Him [say], "We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position." Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever. If Allah had intended to take a son, He could have chosen from what He creates whatever He willed. Exalted is He; He is Allah, the One, the Prevailing. He created the heavens and earth in truth. He wraps the night over the day and wraps the day over the night and has subjected the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. Unquestionably, He is the Exalted in Might, the Perpetual Forgiver. He created you from one soul. Then He made from it its mate, and He produced for you from the grazing livestock eight mates. He creates you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, within three darknesses. That is Allah , your Lord; to Him belongs dominion. There is no deity except Him, so how are you averted?... ( Surat Az-Zumar )

    July 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • peace

      smell like dictator demi-gods illah

      July 26, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  12. Charlie

    The guy was a hero !!

    July 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  13. Harun

    Does European leadership know that muslim countries are based on muslim law which bans publicity of other religion to muslims, conversion of muslim to other religion etc basic right is handicapped in muslim countries. Where as european countries allow muslims to religious conversion freely. Even in muslim countries non muslim live with non-citizen status so that demography favors muslims. Do what does make european leaders to open all these things one sided?

    July 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Islam appeasement is one way road – they take, you give. No reciprocation. It is their way here, their way there.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • Jake

      That's why we should be allowed to ban islam. It is the only religion that combines church and state. But honestly, it'll never get banned under a conservitive or liberal leadership.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  14. Jake

    I want to say that Islam is a peaceful religion, but after seeing all the Muslims in my school weeping over Osama bin Laden's death, it made me change my mind.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • stonedwhitetrash

      Great post thank you

      July 26, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  15. sarah goldberg

    google ' salman taseer blasphemy pakistan' people and you'll see the true face of islam.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      When you do that also google, "Shahbaz Bhatti" blasphemy

      July 26, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  16. Chuckie

    This is just another attempt to deflect criticism from Islam and its followers. Through the sin of commission AND the sin of omission, Islamic radicals have been supported, taught, and assisted in their activities by supposedly innocent and peace-loving Muslims. We see this wherever Muslims live or travel. We will never see or hear a clear call to end the Jihad madness because Jihad is a central part of the Islamic faith. Convert, subvert, and oppress the infidel.

    When Islamic clerics call for Jihad/death to America/kill the infidels- Islamic nations do nothing.

    Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc...live in an Islamicly controlled nation, they live as second class citizens. There is no religious freedom when Islam controls a nation, period.

    When Islam stops being such an over-achiever it the field of terrorism we will have lots of time to study terrorism as a general topic. Currently, Islamic Terrorism IS THE TOPIC.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  17. Ali

    You eyes are blinded you never see the true.. but when the judgement day come.. You all see what is truth....

    July 26, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Hahahah! Talking about truth. I would believe one would study science to know truth and not a 7th century religious gibberish!

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

      Ok1 So please save yourself and leave everyone else alone

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

      WorldIsRound; religion will not gabbirsh .. You will see soon..

      July 26, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  18. Dante

    Leave it to C*NN to serve up a nice front-page shot of Taqiyah (google the term)...overflowing with lies and obfuscation. How would it go over in Saudi Arabia for the French to immigrate in droves and then demand that Wine & Cheese shops be made available immediately? And then start building Catholic churches all over the country? Would C*NN be there with their army of hypocritical liars and "neutral" reporters?......This is why Big Media has lost all credibility.

    July 26, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Xugos

      Your post is so full of nonsense that it is literally overflowing with it. Lay off of the muslim conspiracy theories for a while and employ simple logic. Muslims aren't allowed to do anything that an indigenous Norwegian can not. They employ the same religious freedoms and civil rights to live their lives and to practice their religions.

      They are not violating the laws of Norway, therefore you comparing this to a bunch of French people immigrating to Saudi Arabia to build wine shops there is nonsensical since doing that IS ILLEGAL there.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • Chuckie

      Good point. Well said.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Xugos, it is only matter of numbers before Muslims start to impose their life on others

      July 26, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Dante

      Xugos: Hilarious, but excellent example of Muslim Taqiyah in action. So, I guess with your logic it would be ok to go ahead and make it illegal for muslim women to cover their heads/face, to outlaw mosque and felafel restaruants?...That all you got in your pathetic little Taqiyah ammo-kit?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  19. Aladdin

    Islam is the only true and Valid Religion

    July 26, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • Logan9773

      Islam is just another fairy tale, and Moohamed was a murderous, gay_pedophile.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Oh yeah, we believe you

      July 26, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Jake

      Scientology is the only true religion. It offers answers to all your questions. If you are a Muslim, Christian or Jew, then you are brainwashed into fake religions, so come out and try the only REAL religion.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Ali

      Logan9773; Are you mason?

      July 26, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Progmetty

      You guys just can't be that naive! it's so obvious people who make these kind of comments are being sarcastic!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Logan9773

      @Ali – No, I worship The Great Pumpkin and his prophet Casper the Ghost. Casper has told me that one day he will rise from the Pumpkin Patch, and all his followers shall be delivered. He also has said that all non-believers should be destroyed and made into pies. With whip topping. haleiluyuh.

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

      Logan9773; well good luck then, when old ages come your pampkin may help you..

      July 26, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  20. sarah goldberg

    our liberals should ask the non-muslims in pakistan,iran ,saudia arabia how they are treated.google 'asiya bibi pakistan blasphemy' to find out how muslims treat the non-msulims in their countries. in pakistan the governor of their largest state was murdered by his own bodyguard and the killer is now showered with rose petals at every court appearance ,google ' salman taseer pakistan blasphemy' and see for yourself.don't let this tragic incident be used by the muslims to shove islam down america's throats. google the phrases i've mentioned and see for yourself.

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

      I'm a liberal, and I don't have to ask them to know the answer. Of course they are treated poorly!

      July 26, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • Humanity4all

      Ms Goldberg. On the flip side to your comments, let's Google or YouTube how Israel is treating the Arabs.....deal?
      I arrest my case.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:37 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.