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. Erlend

    How many terrorbombs have "Christians" made since Oklahoma, and how many have "Muslims" made?
    This is the reason for the airport check.
    When a Christian do a terror deed, all christian takes a clear opinion away from these acts, and clearly say that this is not a christian act. The Muslim, on the other hand, sigh, look away, and mumbles: "Not all Muslims......" Doing nothing more.

    July 26, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • Erlend

      PS: Breivik is not anti Islamic, he is against the multicultural society.

      July 26, 2011 at 5:18 am |
    • Kal Richard

      You are an idiot. Muslims DO oppose and publicly denounce a lll acts of terrorism in the name of Islam. And then you say that Christians oppose terrorism in the name of their religion more vehemently than Muslims. You are making a harsh and unrealistic statement. What do need to understand Muslims are against all acts of terrorism: perhaps every time a bomb explodes in Iraq, CNN should cut away to an Islamic organization saying "We do not condone any violence blah blah blah". You are an idiot and racist.
      Maybe Chrisitans need to be more vocal; all I read on the comments are CHRISITANS thanking this terrorist...

      July 26, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Dan

      Kal. What a liar you are! Who has thanked this man for what he did? No one.

      July 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm |


    July 26, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  3. jose

    wrong again cnn. this killer was not christian nor was the oklahoma city bomber, read his manifesto, look at the world today and you'll see its muslims that are creating the problems. people are fed up with islam and now they're showing it.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • Viking

      So, when Muslims are fed up with Jews, or Christians, or Western occupants, they're terrorists?
      While when Christians terrorise, kill and occupy Muslims and their property they're just 'fed up'?

      wrong again, Jose. I take it you're Christian so I won't try to explain why your reasoning is faulty......
      Disclaimer: I'm not christian or muslim or religious in any way. And the killer wasn't even a representative example of a Christian.

      July 26, 2011 at 4:18 am |
    • Viking

      Apologies, I misread your comment, so I see that you don't think he was Christian.

      But I still think defending the killers attack on Norwegian (mostly ethnic Norwegian) people on the grounds of being 'fed up' with Muslims is a long stretch.....

      July 26, 2011 at 4:21 am |
  4. Paradigm

    If the many allegations that Muslims are programmed to be killers are true, the comments from muslims should mostly reflect that. But on the contrary, Muslims are generally trying to say "we are not bad," while the other half are saying "you are bad regardless of what you say." This is a recipe for a witch hunt. Start with the premise that all Muslims are bad. The next step: throw them in a river with hands and feet bound. If they die, they must have not been bad after all. If they survive, it is evidence that they are evil.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:38 am |
  5. Viking

    Stop bickering about your stupid religions.
    This attack has nothing to do with religion, it is about a crazy guy who is afraid of what he doesn't know and wants to protect what he wrongly believes is in danger.

    To quote Norwegian newspapers:
    He's got a twisted perception of reality. He's spent 9 years on copy/pasting templar knight literature and right wing propaganda and effectively brain washed himself.
    He expected to be shot on the way to trial (drama queen, like most right wing self proclaimed on man armies) and he wrongly believe that he will be tortured during police questioning.

    He acknowledged that what he did was sad, but insists it was necessary and he'd do it again if he had the chance.

    He views the government and the Labour Party as traitors, since it's them who's had the most influence over the immigration the last 10 years. And that's why he had to do what he did, to send a strong signal, and try to stop further recruitment to the Labour Party.
    He is NOT A RACIST (one of his best friends in school was a Pakistani, and as such he was spared from harrasment and violence by middle Eastern gangs in school, which IS NOT a typical islamic or middle eastern characteristic, but a sign of foreign minorities that tries to assert themselves. -Like the irish and italian gangs in New York during the mass immigration 150 years ago).

    At the same time, that protection he had made him see (wrongly of course) the hypocrisy of Islam (which, again is a result of him being brain washed and mentally corrupt).

    Although a Christian, he is NOT RELIGIOUS. At least not enough to be called a Christian fundamentalist. As someone wrote, he might as well have been fighting for the honour of Hogwarts rather than the Christian church.

    He's a complete nutter and any who gets into a moral debate and takes side, whether Christian or Muslim, Racist or anti-Racist, left-wing or right-wing, is as disillusioned as him.

    Btw. I'm an atheist (maybe even atheistic Satanist) and even I can't see any reason to blame religion for this attack.
    I'll blame it for a lot of things, but not this one.

    Forget all about Anders Breivik, do not give him the honour/pleasure of becoming a spark of any debate.

    Hail democracy, hail freedom of thought/speech/religion, hail humanity.

    In other words, he's a complete NUTTER, and if he manages to spark a furious religious debate, or any debate at all, HE WINS.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:36 am |
  6. Ronen Newmark



    July 26, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Dan

      Yes. Don't you just love how differently they speak, when talking to east vs. west audiences.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  7. Altee11

    There is a problem in the world when criminals find support just by saying they commit crimes in the name of a religion. This is a humongous problem suffered by Islam; it is less suffered by other religions at this point in time. But so long as criminals successfully claim to act in the name of religion without challenge, the ultimate result will be even more criminals claiming even more religions as the basis for criminal activity.

    July 26, 2011 at 3:02 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      I have to agree with you on that. We can aim to suppress radical or extremist right among western nations but what about the same happening among Muslims? Tolerance is not a one way road.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  8. Altee11

    Criminals acting in the name of a religion breed even more criminals acting in the name of additional religions.
    Right now, criminals acting in the name of Islam dominate the game, but they do not have a monopoly.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      They do have a monopoly. Perhaps you wanted to say they are not exclusive.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • Altee11

      Exclusive is a more precise word.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  9. ttttttt

    some of you on here arent any different from this Brevick guy your hearts are full of hate that is a shame and i bet 90% of you dont even know where Norway is on the map. Education,is what is missing in this great country,its not even funny how many people on here are uneducated what a BIG SHAME AMERICA.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      OK, after all the accusations, what do you want to say?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hmm..... This guy Brevick.... took a few tons of fertilizer and turned it into a truck bomb......

      Tell me, do you feel that all bad guys are un-educated? Part of me would then be concerned what would happened if “educated” would do....

      … Oh yeah, Hiroshima... I guess educated guys would still have death on their plans and would build BIGGER and deadlier bombs 🙂

      July 26, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • Brian

      What a super argument! Seriously!

      Can't actually address the facts or anyone's comment, so go for the usual rhetoric and baseless generalizations and accusations.

      Transparent, pathetic and dishonest debate tactics are the tools of the uneducated people you speak of.

      Might want to look in the mirror homey.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • News Flash

      Well, obviously, from your grammar and English you're not exactly one to be lecturing anyone about education.

      July 26, 2011 at 5:24 am |
  10. Brian

    So, since September 11th, 2001, there have been 12,000 jihad related terrorist attacks and one Christian related terrorist attack and because of that one terrorist attack, we should now level the playing field and broaden our scope in our search for terrorists?

    I'm sorry, and I wholeheartedly condemn this man's actions, but I'm not even Christian and I don't believe this drivel.

    Muslims and far left fools have been chomping at the bit, waiting for this day to push their silly agenda of, "see, Christians do it too."

    Christians have had their 'day in the sun' of torture, terror and warfare in the name of their lord. Fortunately for the world, most have evolved out that medieval garbage, while Islam is still festering knee deep in it.

    Now that being said, America, what it's supposed to be and is for the most part now, is built on multiculturalism. I have no problem with it. In fact, I love it. American Muslims seem to be a cut above the rest of the middle Eastern counterparts, and it's because of multiculturalism that they are. however, that does not negate the fact that there is a serious problem with this religion and those who choose to use it's 'old testament' teachings and instill them in a century where they have no place.

    Even if the percentage of radical Muslims to the rest, is as small as 1 or 2 percent, we're still talking about 10 or 20 million, and you want us to broaden our scope because ONE fool went on a rampage?

    lol....i don't think so.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      They believe making friendship with the devil will save them. Sure it will save them and they will be the last to be devoured.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • RATM

      Well said Brian!

      And, it should be noted that the Norwegian loon went off on his rampage because of his fears brought on by a perception of Muslim invasion and expansion into western societies. Had certain factions of Islam not openly proclaimed (and continue to openly and vehemently proclaim) aggression and hatred against Western Society and infidels in the first place one wonders if indeed there would be such paranoia, fear, resentment, and distrust of Muslims as now exists?

      For every action there is an equal and opposite REaction.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:39 am |
  11. Ali


    July 26, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      After you stroke, and stub your toe, come back, and we'll have a little chat about this crap.

      July 26, 2011 at 5:47 am |
  12. Ali


    July 26, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  13. WorldIsRound

    To all those who search for science in Quran. Tell you what, you could find science more easily in an elementary book of science and without as much effort as you would have to searching it in Quran. If Quran were science, Al-Qaida would be a premier research organization inventing life saving drugs and if Quran were science, we wouldn't be needing so much research and scholarship on science as God already told what all is required for us to know.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Hamid

      then i can tell that u havent passed elementary yet

      July 26, 2011 at 3:25 am |
  14. Dre Ucci

    Oklahoma City has the FBIs fingerprints all over that. While in prison, Tim McVeigh was visited numerous times, apparently 18 times, by a psychiatrist named Dr. Louis Jollyon West, often referred to as Dr. Jolly West. Dr. West was the chairman of the department of Psychiatry at UCLA, but his real job was as a CIA asset, in charge of the MK Ultra Mind Control program.
    Dr. West had also paid visits to Sirhan Sirhan, another supposed lone gunman, accused of killing Robert Kennedy, but in reality a product of the CIA mind control program, set up as the patsy.

    Dr. West was also the psychiatrist employed by the government to evaluate the “mental condition” of Jack Ruby after he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. You may not know that when Ruby was interrogated, he told the FBI that there was a huge conspiracy surrounding the JFK assassination and he could only expose it if they moved him to a safe place – which they refused to do.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • Noble9


      July 26, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Brian


      July 26, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Dre Ucci

      Real funny eh? I bet you they can kidnap you and take you to a secret location and have you believe through shock treatment and other techniques in one month that you are the mastermind behind 9/11. Many people say if 9/11 was an inside job, why would the United States attack itself? Same with Oklahoma City. Its an old trick where if you have an enemy who will not attack you, then attack yourself, then blame your enemy. Same works with a group, like the states rights movements. Show me a video that shows flight 77 hitting the pentagon. Thats right, National Security!! Jet fuel and an anfo bomb could not cause the damage that everyone wants you to believe it did.

      July 26, 2011 at 3:13 am |
  15. Kal Richard

    Azeem wins. This Bell guy is really a character! He is bashing Islam all over. He says it declared war on America!! There is no one leader of Islam that did so; maybe he refers to that crazy guy from Iran. But even Muslims hate him! I have read the Quran. Beautiful writings. As a devout Christian, Islam IS peaceful; people should trying learning like this Bell guy!!!
    Keep on doing what you do Azeem!

    July 26, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      Islam is peaceful when it doesn't say to slay the unbeliever wherever you find them and it is peaceful when it doesn't ask Muslims not to marry and take friends from other religions. I can go on what is the point? Hypocrisy has no bounds with statements like "Islam is peaceful"

      July 26, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • click

      Thank you Kal Richard but its the people who dont know anything its called ignorent they see something on Fox or CNN and they belive it .

      July 26, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Dan


      I have to say, you sound an awful lot like those Muslim trolls who adopt anglo-sounding internet names and try to pass themselves off as a westerner who just loves Islam (evn though they are devout Christians or Jews). If you were as devout a Christian as you say and have also read teh Qur'an, it would be clear to you that the teachings of Christ are completely incompatible with the teachings of Islam.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  16. Charles

    Those who hate Islam know nothing of it.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • WorldIsRound

      OK, those who ignore all the vile verses know everything about Quran. Great.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Noble9

      I've seen the peace-loving Muslims protesting with signs threatening to behead people who insult it. I've seen videos of Muslims actually cutting off people's heads. I've been shot at and had rocks thrown at me by Muslims, some of who yelled 'Allahu akbar'. I watched a Muslim court chop off the hands of criminals. It's really a lovely religion.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • Dan

      Google "contemplation of the beardless." That is all I ever want to know about Islam or the Qur'an.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  17. josh

    Religion just breeds hate and violence. Biggest evil in the world. Islam, Christianity, you name it. It's in our nature to destroy ourselves.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  18. winstonsmith

    Also, you guys are aware over 200 Muslims who worked in the Trade Towers (Americans, too) were killed by the terrorist attacks on 9/11, right?


    July 26, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  19. Jim

    Why bring religion? You guys are too RACIST!!! You cannot blame any religion for these kind of acts, these terrorist individual/group don't have any religion, They are burden on earth! Please guys respect one's religion.

    July 26, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • Sarah

      @Jim, Absolutely true!! ,read koran & bible and see the similarities.

      July 26, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Noble9

      What does racism have to do with religion?

      July 26, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • Hamid

      Jim i wish more americans were like u, or atleast had ur mind set. I am a muslim and i respect every religion and race.
      god bless u Jim wether ur christian, jewish or any other religion

      July 26, 2011 at 4:01 am |
  20. Ali

    for you All, II have one present for your listen carefully and watch it :
    Immortal Technique – Dance With The Devil

    July 26, 2011 at 2:28 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.