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. Truthvs.Libs

    CNN continues to fall faster and faster down the rabbit hole.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  2. keepee

    Muslims should definitely not be blamed automatically for terrorist acts. The situation does require action on both sides. Non-muslims should indeed not be quick to put blame. But Muslims also have a duty. When Muslims are found to be responsible, there should be swift condemnation from the general Muslim population and from Muslim leaders. When Muslims get offended by some form of speech, literature, and the like, they should not threaten to kill people. There is such a thing as free speech. Muslim leaders should be swift in condemning those threats; otherwise it seems like they are condoning the threats. Quit yelling jihad. Why does everything that annoys you have to be killed ? Do unto others what you wants others to do to you. In Muslim countries, establish respect for other religions and churches. Let them flourish.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  3. thinkerfunk

    I would like to start out by saying that I am a practicing Christian. So what does that mean anyway?
    To me a Christian is one who lives strives to become Christ like in their lives. I may fall short at times but I still use Christ as an example to how I should conduct my life.
    Now I may not of been there to hear Christ speak but I am positive that he never told his followers that it was okay to hate muslims, or that assuming that all people of a particular culture held the same extremist values.
    all to often I hear people who proclaim themselves as Christians blame and despise muslims because of their own ignorance of the Teachings of Islam.
    Would Christ, a man who perfected the use of forgiveness, really think it okay to condem, and hate other children of God?
    As Christians we should extend a hand of friendship, to all of our brethen. this isn't always easy, and to have strong negative emotions towards others is not something we can easily overcome. If you have to hate, direct it towards the acts of evil commited towards you, if you want even directed it towards individuals responsible for your woes, (though tis would not be Christ like) but to direct you ill feelings towards an entire culture of people is itself an extremist view.

    Maybe the teachings of islam are not the same as those of Christian Churches, but our own ignorance should not act as fuel for the fire. As a religion that claims to follow the teachings of Christ, a man who taught us to love our even our enemy, many of us are quick to damn and to hate. Before we condem someones holy war maybe we should take a look at our own.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:03 am |
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  8. Malakili

    O course you can't put the blame on Muslims. The Muslims were originally "Those who help". The greatest example is during the Holy Wars or the Crusades, when the Catholics refused to even believe that Muslims were even humans they considered them animals. One man, whose personal or private name is Yusuf or Joseph in Arabic, is Saladin. When the Catholics ran out of food and water he gave them both food and water, and he was also thought highly of BY the CATHOLICS, and also revered militarily as well.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  9. faberm

    Where is the outrage of the so-called "peaceful moslems"? I never hear Muslims condemning the brutal suicide killing of innocent Jews and Christians. I suspect they are afraid some Muslim kook will hunt them down and kill them even in America.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  10. peace


    Hey read this Islam holy book http://quran.com/5/51 it said "do not take the Jews and the Christians as friends"

    immigrant, as long you are good muslim then you must shoot us jews and christians and claim your new area as sharia colonial area.

    Sahih International
    O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.

    August 13, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  11. Chief_Cabioch

    muslims cant be blamed ?, for one act of violence maybe, but what about the ones they actually have their hands in?, Not just in the Middle East, but in Africa and other muslim nations?....any attempt to shield muslims from the blood on their hands if foolish, they are in Fact the most Violent of groups hiding behind "religion", when in fact they are NOT a RELIGION, they are a Cult, and a lifestyle, and are intent on subjugating all other religions, if they refuse to follow them....and lets not forget "taqyyia", the Korans verses and the Hadith that are specific to "lying" for Islam......after reading those verses I challenge anyone to debate why anyone would trust ANY muslim.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Chief_Cabioch

      for the Record, Brievek was NOT a christian....he followed the writings of the "Left Wing Terroist the famed "Uni Bomber" Ted Kazinski"....and to spin this as a Christian inspired mass murder is false, and misleading, and for the Record, Brevik described himself as a Darwinian, I dont know many "true" Christains who would consider themselfs followers of Darwin......so lets get to reality......this isnt going to be "Christian" in anyones minds but you liberals who have the same objective as Islam...the destruction of the US, ....

      August 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Malakili

      And I challenge you to a debate in why anyone should believe Catholics. I am a Catholic, and Catholicism coining Shakespeare " no matter how much I wash my hands the blood won't come out." Might I remind of the you Inquisition which I call it when the nine gates of Hell busted open, Los Conquistadores, the Trail of Tears, the Crusades, Starved Rock, The Salem Witch Trials, and of course when the church was at its worst in selling the rich a " pass to Heaven" also how corrupt Catholicism as well as when they could amass their own army and while they had riches they probably plundered aka STOLE openly the poor barely make a living. As what I say all religions and ALL RACES AND ETHNIC BACKGROUNDS are guilty of having blood on their hands. people use religion to gain power, one example would be Grigori Yefimovich Novik or best known as his nickname RASPUTIN, he was the leader of an occult, he knew things, he could get women, he is a corrupter, a derelict, a "healer", and misunderstood. The only way that all religions stop bickering would be in the book Brave New World...... You can look it up. and read I don't feel like doing the whole quote rule. The Americans are guilty of the blood of each other, the genocide of the Native American Indians because they refused to give up their land the land of their family and ancestors. We wage wars because of religion, we have revolutions because of religion, we put people to the sword aka execute them because of religion, we justify unjust actions in the name of religion( Los Conquistadores going forth in the name of gold, God, and country), we use religion as an excuse to everything, we use use religion to bring hope, we use religion for redemption, we use religion to sooth us, to bury us, to give us peace, and to heal us.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  12. JLP

    Two of the last hundreds of terrorist attacks in the world in the last 20years have been caused by non-Muslims,so by definition,the rest were caused by Muslims.While I strongly condemn the actions of this man in Norway,I do feel that we are not taking the issue of intended world wide domination by Muslims seriously enough.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  13. Buddy R

    As always, CNN opinion writers are anti-Christian. This particular opinion writer is a Muslim.

    The man did not follow the teachings of Christ and is not a Christian according to the words of Jesus Christ. Jesus said if you do not follow his teachings you are not his. Period. In my opinion anyone who calls the man a Christian is either ignorant of the Bible or a willful liar.

    Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    1Jn 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    Jesus taught us to love everyone, even our enemies. Not to kill them. The Bible says anyone who claims to know God but who hates or murders is a liar.

    Mat 5:44 But 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;

    1Jn 4:20 If 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?

    1Jn 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

    Mr article writer, according to the Bible the man who killed all those kids did not know God. He is a liar in calling himself a Christian. He hates people and he murders and he does not live according to the core teachings of Christianity.

    Mat 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
    Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
    Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Islamic terrorism is the greatest threat to our world today.

    August 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  14. Muneef

    Islam had it's share of False Prophets During Muhammad's saws time, so God only knows how many were there after his death and result of those at present times...!?
    -01) Al-Aswad al-Ansi.
    Aswad Ansi (Arabic : الاسود العنس), better known as Abhala son of Kaab, was a prophet who claimed prophethood in Yemen towards the end of the prophet Muhammad's lifetime, around 630 AD. He claimed to receive divine inspiration in the form of words and is recorded to have recited them to his people.
    He was known to be a soothsayer and a sorcerer who had a passion for consumption of alcohol. He had an ability to dazzle a crowd with tricks, according to traditional accounts he had a donkey whom he had trained to kneel before him, he would tell the donkey, in front of a large crowd "Kneel before your lord" and it would kneel, and then he would say to it "Bow before your lord" and it would bow. He eventually managed to convince the people of Yemen that he was a prophet.

    -2) Musaylama The Liar
    “ "From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Musaylimah, the arch-liar. Peace be upon him who follows (God's) guidance. Now then, surely the earth belongs to God, who bequeaths it to whom He will amongst his servants. The ultimate issue is to the God-fearing."[4] ”

    -3) Tulayha
    Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid ibn Nawfal al-Asadi[1] belonged to the Bani Assad tribe. He was a wealthy chief and a great warrior.[1] In 625 he was defeated in the Expedition of Qatan (against the Muslims). He also took part in the Battle of the Trench in 627.
    In 630 he submitted to Muhammad. However, he rebelled against Muhammad in 631 when he claimed to be a prophet and the recipient of divine revelation.[1] Thus, Tulayha became the third person to claim prophethood among the Arabs against Muhammad.[2] Many tribes acknowledged him as a prophet, which made him sufficiently strong and powerful to lead a confederacy of numerous tribes against the Muslims.[1].

    August 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Muneef

      False Prophets reveal them selves time after time all through generations;

      August 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Muneef

      Those today are refered to as politicians....

      August 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  15. rudraksha

    Who do you mean by the Prophet followers?

    August 4, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  16. Bilal

    After going through the comments ... It smells like the world is now steping towards the world war three which has been predicted to be basd on religions!!

    August 1, 2011 at 3:21 am |
    • Muneef

      I think that the cause are those predictions which were made and believe me if there were no predictions there will be no wars...

      August 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Sam

      People need to do their own research, instead of only believing what they see on tv

      August 12, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  17. Muneef

    A Man has to extend his relations with all races and beliefs and learn how to extend trust and cooperation.

    Some body has to play the role of Middle Man/ Negotiator whether you trust or not ! Some body has be there with contacts when strings are to be pulled...they are even gain as brokers in deals...!The right contact and the building of public relations locally or internationally is an important issue for finalizing any political or business deals therefore you have to build your relation and extend it to whom you like or don't like for any means, after all you never know when you will be needed to resolve problems between people through your contacts...! That is life "We need each other whether we like each other or not" and that how things are concluded rather than closing our selves into shells... Any business man within imports/exports/transportations services has to have and build contacts globally to run a business otherwise by being choosey as to whom you like or do not like....guess there will be no business and you got to trust that some body even if you do not like them beliefs or what's ever it is That bands you....?!

     "Discrimination/Racisem are a poisonous elements of Hate" Muslims started from Southern Yemen who have traded all the Indian and Pacific oceans with people of all beliefs or disbeliefs...they have integrated among all coastal lands populations...therefore you will find big family roots in South East Asia extended to China Sea that are Originally from Yemeni,Hadramy descendants...!!

    July 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      By reading the comments on this Blog it seems very obvious to us that people need to learn more about the gayness of Christ . The truth of Christ’s gayness is coming out more and more each day. For a better understanding of this scriptural verse we invite you to visit our website http://www.gaychristian101.com..

      August 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  18. Muneef

    Islam or Christianity by Birth are Not Religions but rather a political Nationality & National Ident-i-ty !!

    Religion is not by Birth, Religion it is by Faith,therefore they are not as Equal or Alike.
     Kindly refer to following Quran verses ;

    "The blind and the seeing are not alike; (19) Nor are the depths of Darkness and the Light; (20) Nor are the (chilly) shade and the (genial) heat of the sun: (21) Nor are alike those that are living and those that are dead. Allah can make any that He wills to hear; but thou canst not make those to hear who are (buried) in graves. (22)".
    "These two kinds (of men) may be compared to the blind and deaf, and those who can see and hear well. Are they equal when compared? Will ye not then take heed? (24)".
    "Say: "Are the blind equal with those who see? Or the depths of darkness equal with Light?" (16)".
    "Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of the night prostrating himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter, and who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord― (like one who does not)? Say: "Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition." (9)".
    "Not equal are the blind and those who (clearly) see: nor are (equal) those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and those who do evil. Little do ye learn by admonition! (58)".

    Example; Late Amy Winhouse was Nationally known to be of family of Jew but she personally was not a Religious Practising Jew.... 
    Have came across termbe been used here to refer to people such as ;
    – He was A Christian Atheist....or was A Jew Atheist... 
    Or other way of identifying some one they say;
    – He was American White Christian Atheist.
    – He was American White Christian Muslim.

    Notice the use of nationalities given here;
    – The Country's Nationality.
    – The Race Color Nationality.
    – The by birth Community Religion Nationality..
    – The Actual or Converted to belief Nationality.

    There are other Nationality terms such as the Religious Sectarians and the Regional family  Area.

    From every Religion you will find those who are committed (A) and those who are counted on the Religion but are not religious nor they believe (B);
    Now we ought to find out who is generating the trouble ? Are they Group (A)or (B) from each By Birth Religion...!?

    July 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  19. Muneef

    Islam or Christianity by Birth are Not Religions but rather a Political Nationality & National Ident-i-ty !!

    July 31, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  20. Muneef

    Peace and Ramadan Kareem to all Muslim Brothers and Sisters...Inshallah fasting from Monday Dawn to SunSet...
    Just wonder in Christians or non Religious have tried fasting as Muslims do...am sure with time they will adopt it as a system for the health benefits it holds health and body...it is told it helps the body to discharge and burn out the poisonous chemicals from our bodies other than controlling weights... Some say they can not because of smoking other for water or food...but other than that is controlling anger or bad mood of the empty stomach, controlling one's tongue from hurting any one,to control eyes from staring at desire... Above all those to a Muslim he is to Maintain Prayers and Quran Reciting which of course beside it being a spiritual matter it is meant the body exercise by the up's and down's of prayers....as well as training of tongue & lungs by the Quran Recitation...these beside Tasbih "Praise of Glorify" helps to control one's breathing..

    So you see it is all good and challenging since only by those means can you gain control your desires... 

    Control of Desire Quran verses same Verse in Arabic but in English check translation and God knows how many are other more...such as these things case confusion among non Arab Muslims and non Muslims..although all end to mean same thing but in different ways that caused it be misunderstood...then the fact of being translated in many languages in the same way...! This was just a standing example of the Quran although still alive existing and in one copy !?
    Then imagine what could have had happened to the Torah and or Gospel having passed through three dead languages,one after the other then from a classic language into modern language, in many different copies then into many languages.

    Read and Judge; 
    [79:40] As for the one who reverenced the majesty of his Lord, and enjoined the self from sinful lusts.
    [79:41] Paradise will be the abode.
    But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust, (40) Lo! the Garden will be his home. (41)
    And as for him who dreaded standing before his Lord, and restrained his soul from lust, (40) Verily the Garden! -that shall be his resort. (41)
    And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord's (tribunal) and had restrained (their) soul from lower Desires, (40) Their Abode will be the Garden. (41).
    But as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires, and lusts. (40) Verily, Paradise will be his abode. (41).
    Whereas for the one who feared to stand before his Lord, and restrained his self from the (evil) desire, (40) The Paradise will be the abode. (41).

    July 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • beaconoflight

      Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists all have rituals of fasting. Islam adopted it from the Jewish and Christian influences that are so apparent in the quran. The biggest difference is that a large number of muslims want to force all of us who choose differently to follow your customs and beliefs by the force of arms and bombs. Also since the quran has been shuffled around itself in history, it is no more the pure word of God than the Torrah, the Bible or other holy texts that have been touched by the hand of mankind. As for translation out of Arabic, sure the quran should be translated but then again that is technically haram (forbidden), isn't it? Who said Arabic is the language of God??? Your ideology is too full of man-made rules to foster intellectual and spiritual freedom.

      Maybe in your holy month this year you will reflect on all of the violence, anti-semitism, gender inequality, lack of religious tolerance that is so core to the quran and your haddiths. Maybe the light will go on and you will abandon these foundations of violence. Will you do these thing? Probably not since you live in fear of having/expressing a free thought. Fear from your fellow muslims who will accuse you of apostasy and blasphemy. Fear that they will come to your house and do you harm. Will you have courage to abandon the hatred in your belief system?

      Allah, was the word used by Christians in the Arabian peninsula before Mohammed's followers drove them from the land. Think about that as you fast...

      July 31, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Muneef

      Who drove the Christians from where?? Who do you mean by the Prophet followers? Are you talking at his living time or the present time?
      Old times Prophet had good relation of the few Christians in the Arabian Penisular, he even married from them a Christian wife and remained in her religion...in Madina as well all three religions lived in some const-i-tution of some understanding peacefully...
      Already I admitted that there are those full of hatred and think they judge and condemn any body who says any thing accusing him with as you mentioned...but God knows whether this would come up among Christians/Chatolic and Jews ,religion against religion,sector against sector within each religion....
      We still we can not judge or condemn all for acts of some extreme fundamentalists or mercenaries....!

      August 1, 2011 at 10:37 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.