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.

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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. nice


    Don't use Oslo as a diversion from the very real, and much more serious problem of Islamism.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  2. Judy

    For hundreds of years Islam has produced nothing but terrorists. Those Muslims who move their lips and say that Islamic terrorists are in the wrong simply do nothing else. Muslims have never tried to stop the cancer of terrorism that broods within their own national borders. Instead, they often secretly support the training camps and harbor the terrorists within their own homes. What McVeigh and Breivik did was out of their own twisted minds. They did not recruit young people to do their dirty work, such as don a bomber vest or send a child to an American soldier (or any allied soldier) so the child would get a good look at the surroundings and go back and report it to the terrorists, so they in turn, could plan an attack. And for this author to claim he is educated and write such crap shows just how perverted Islam is.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  3. Ronen Newmark


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

    if we remain silent today our future generations will pay the price,we should write to cnn to let them know that their pandering to radical islam might get them ratings and high website traffic but it is destroying our society.this guy khalid writes a sob story intended to portray all muslims as the victims ,where was this khalid when people were killed in pakistan for committing " blasphemy'? where were all the moderate muslims when 9/11 happened? don't let this incident be used as an excuse to stifle all opinion critical of radiacl islam.if people stay quiet now due to a fear of being labelled far right or neo nazi then our future generations will have to face stoning to death of women and public hangings of gays and atheists.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Judy

      Actually, instead of talking to CNN about it, I'm taking a step further and contacting NYU tomorrow morning to complain about the idiot that wrote this garbage. Personally, I'm sick of being told we must be tolerant and walk on egg shells when around Muslims. I'm also sick of them coming into my country and TRYING to steal away my rights by their screaming about how offended they are regarding public schools, laws, our culture, etc because of Christianity. We need to show them the door marked "exit" and warn them to not let it hit them in the ass on the way out.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  5. Ronen Newmark

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbIrWj6gDDk?rel=0&w=640&h=510%5D

    July 26, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  6. wvdave

    What church did this bum attend?
    He is NOT a Christian and to the far left loons that keep saying this nut is a Christian, SHAME ON YOU!!

    July 26, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  7. Marc Twain

    While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
    Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
    Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
    As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

    God Bless America,
    Land that I love.
    Stand beside her, and guide her
    Thru the night with a light from above.
    From the mountains, to the prairies,
    To the oceans, white with foam
    God bless America, My home sweet home.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  8. Omelet209

    Can somebody try to explain to me why extremist Christians and Muslims seem to be hellbent on slaughtering each other, while such aspirations don't seem to exist among Hindus and Buddhists?

    July 26, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  9. TheNumber

    Well said, Khalid. Peace, brother.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Yes, peace also to Christians in Egypt (abductions, forced conversions) and in Pakistan (blasphemy laws, persecutions and killings)

      July 26, 2011 at 2:20 am |
  10. theProhetJesusPBUH

    Allah is greatest.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      What's new?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • geckopelli


      July 26, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  11. Harry

    Take the religion out and you have nothing but pure terrorism. Terrorism is bad, doesn't matter who commits it. In time all religious groups have committed terrorism acts such as Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, Budhists in Combodia, Jews in Israel, and muslims as well. Let us take the religion out, and you have "terrorism".

    Stamp out terrorism. Don't bash the religion or beliefs of law abiding people. By definition terrorism is commited by those who do not follow rules.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:15 am |
  12. NorwegianinUSA

    I think it is important to add that most everyone in our nation were very careful about jumping to conclusions about who was behind the bombing and Island attacks.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  13. WorldIsRound

    Why does it have to be Islam versus rest of the World? Why can't the Muslims realize that they are as human as the rest of World and allow themselves to make friends and marry freely from other faiths? Humanity supersedes all religions. We are all born humans and we could as well belong to any faith we are put into. Why these artificial barriers, why this isolation?

    July 26, 2011 at 2:14 am |
    • Ali

      Are you the supporter of New Wolrd Order... I am not .. I dont what one goverment, one army, one religion.. DO YOU WANT IT?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      One army and one religion? I thought that is the dream of everyday Muslim, to achieve Caliphate. All I am asking is to not to be uptight about religion to the extent of not making friends or marrying from other faiths. You remain a human even if you are a Muslim. Keep your faith your personal affair.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Ali

      that might be your dream..I dont what ONE RELİGİON or something that is ONE.. .. I am not the suppurter of NWO..

      July 26, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  14. bearwalker

    islam is the root to all evel,they breed with pigs and hate anyone who dont belive in there hate mongering religion,i say help them get there virgins as marters

    July 26, 2011 at 2:12 am |
  15. hangrez

    The worst thing that happened in the world is human right.because human rights is applicable only in christian, not muslim countries. try to apply human rights in muslim countries you can't because somehow it contradicts with the religion. like in their religion it is allowed to hit the wife so if you try to pass a law that forbids that it will not be applicable because it is against their religion. so this one sided application is decreasing the influence of christian and increasing the power and influence of muslim because it affects their psychology by making them believe that they are above everything and they can do what ever they want in european countries.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Ronen Newmark

      I don't blame the Muslims, only CNN for taking their money and trying to manipulate public opinion with it... How ironic, $100 a barrel is paid for by the American worker, only to go back to Saudi Arabia, only to get used once more to bribe CNN to write fun stories about Muslims being really nice people... If they were really nice people, they wouldn't be robbing you blind at the gas pump and then using that money to convince your media they're nice... Wake up fools... CNN is Crap News Network, they've been bought out by Arab Money.. So no, I don't blame the Muslims, I blame CNN...

      July 26, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • Progmetty

      No it's not allowed to hit or abuse your wife in anyway, please stop taking radical extremists as examples. I have never hit my wife and I was never taught too.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:12 am |
  16. Farhan Esar

    99.9 % of Muslims are not against the West and i can say this with complete confidence that we admire the living standards and public polices that are in the west. All major US Fast Foods are in Pakistan, All Major Fashion brands from US and Europe are present and their is a wide customer bases for it.
    I hope that we can all contribute in spreading peace and love.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:06 am |
  17. Sandra

    So many of these posts use evil as an excuse to perpetrate further evil, hatred to condone more hatred, and intolerance to encourage ever greater intolerance. Where & when do we stop? Like any group you select, a certain minicule perrcetage will be eil andactaccordinly. but one can not judge the whole group by that small percentage. Are all Americans members of the KKK and into lynching people while claming to be a Christian organization? Are all American men seria killers? No & no. To say that all Muslims are terroists is just as idotic. stp and think before you spew hatrd.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  18. Dante

    People are wise to the Big Media apologist agenda and the accompanying Taqiyah barrage from the Islamofacist now. Big Media has ZERO credibility now. And this type of shove-the-Islamic Apologist-agenda-down-your-throat (front page of C*NN) effort, that previously shut out all dissent, is only going to make the situation worse, because they give no credence to people who are opposed to the Islamic agenda. Instead trying to make anyone who disagrees into an extremist wacko. That doesn't work anymore...it just serves to tick people off that they have legitimate concerns about this country's direction and won't be bullied anymore by Big Media and the Islamofacist.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  19. theProhetJesusPBUH


    July 26, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • Ronen Newmark

      Tell me oh great wise one about that verse in the Sura.... Sura 5:12 and the subsequent versus thereafter... Tell me please, what did Mohammed mean in this verse? Whom did he refer to? Why was the word "Israel" written by Mohammed in Arabic directly into the Quean? Why did Mohammed not instead write the word "Palestine" in it's place? Also, what does "Taquia" mean in? I've seen it written in the Quran? Can you tell me what "Taquia" means" Please enlighten me of great one... Sheep...

      July 26, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Go read a Sears and Zemansky or Resnick and Halliday if you are interested in science. Quran is not meant to be science, or else we wouldn't need separate books for science.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  20. Jake

    Ok, let's do a mind experiment for a second. In the US, it is illegal to combine church and state, but we have freedom of religion. However, if the religion is to run around killing innocent people, then the religion is illegal. The Oklahoma City bombings are an example of this. Under this definition, Islam should be illegal because it supports terrorism indirectly by guaranteeing that all non-believers are going to hell, which gets mistranslated by a few (such as al qaeda). Then Islam-ran countries also have no separation of church and state. If the majority of our country becomes Muslim (which is still a long-shot), then we would have an Islam-ran state in which all other religions get banned. A conservative would say that Islam shouldn't be in our country because Christianity should be preserved. But coming from a liberal, I think it should be banned from the above definition. Christianity does have it's terrorist too, so it should have a few of it's denominations regulated.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • Andrew

      Sounds like a french or canadian take on Church and State. Both of those countries ban expression of religion in public space.

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

      "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it" Rep Peter King speaking in the 80's. Guess he is not a Christian terrorism even though over 1000 civilians died at the hands of the IRA

      July 26, 2011 at 2:22 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.