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. Double A

    Mr. Khalid– no offense cause I know you're speaking from the perspective of peace, but I always keep my eyes focused on crazy looking white men, especially in the plane. I also keep my kids away from white women, cause they keep killing kids.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  2. frootyme

    The Norway terrorist did not join the suicide bomber's club. He was able to cause maximum damage keeping himslef alive.
    He proved to be as smart as Timothy Mc Viegh. That is the difference.
    So far only Muslim terrorists and Hindu terrorists (LTTE in Sri Lanka) have been using suicidal tactics to cause the damage.
    Anyway – all these terrorists are morons – keep God aside. Their existrance on earth is in insult to humanity.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Matt

      That seems to be more of a cultural difference than anything else. How are suicide bombers profoundly different from people that massacre many with a gun and then turn the gun on themselves?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  3. SarahTonin

    Khalid Latif ... Sounds Irish to me. Well Khalid, if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck the likelyhood is, is that it's a duck! For years now radical Muslims have been blowing up things and killing innocent people. Take for instance the 8 year old boy that was just hung by terrorists because his policeman daddy wouldn't get them a car to escape in. Khalid my son, the mainstream Muslims have not adequately defended their religion by helping stamp out the terrorists. Take Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden. Some mainstream, non terrorist Muslims did not know where he was? I'm not saying it is a Muslims responsibility to attack the terrorists but at least let someone know where the turds in the turbins are! Then we civil people can look at you Muslims in a different light. Right now if the house next door blows up, it's a Muslim until it is proved different. That's reality Khalid!

    July 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Occupation

      That is ignorance, most house explosions are caused by gas leaks. I am laughing at you, hard.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  4. chris

    Way to go Jeff! This attack and the Oklahoma bombing where not religious motivated. That is the main difference between the decades of islamic terrorism.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • call4peace

      ooo yeah, who was David Koresh? not a religious leader?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Occupation

      Christian deniers are the funniest of all the deniers.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  5. GrogInOhio

    Meh... when a fundie Christian goes nuts, the other fundie Christians disclaim him. It's easy. I see more than one note here already claiming that calling Breivik a fundie Christian is "inaccurate". They did the same thing to Timothy McVeigh. It's standard treatment with the abortion clinic bombers and doctor assassins. It's easy to wear blinders and be a bigot when you can disclaim the nutcases with a snap of the fingers.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  6. dj

    yes lets all embrase the muslim culture until we are all living against our will beneath sharia law. NOT. muslimes are ignorant elitist vile animals. they can not be trusted as far as they are thrown when they release their detonators. they are a plague. there is a reason why everyone thought it was muslimes this time. and the same for next time.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Values Voter


      July 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Anti-Moron Crusader

      Wow, what an educated person you must be. Have another beer and go back to bed, the rest of us have lives to live. Effin loser.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  7. Spikemanlou

    As I have said all along, there are nut jobs in all religions, be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.. I have never said nor will I ever say that all Muslims are nut jobs, nor would I say that all Christians are nut jobs. The bottom line is to steal the words of Rodney King "Can't we all just get along", nor more killings, bombings, etc.. Let's just live our lives and see what happens come judgement day, as for the bombers and murders, hopefully, come judgement day I'll have lived my life good enough to never have to see them again, nor will I have to see all of those virgins their supposed to be getting, they'll all be roasting in hell.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Jake Wheeler

      What do you think the victims of Rodney King's crime spree think of that?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • John Schwendler

      "Can't we all just get along?" Are you kidding me? We were doing just that, more or less, in a fairly stable world until: the terrorist attacks at the Munich Olympics; the world-wide bombing attacks starting mostly in the 1980s, from Indonesia to Indiana to India and all points north and south; the bombings of embassies and entertainment centers; the bombings of airplanes and army bases; the flying of airplanes into buildings; the destruction of countries' ancient monuments; the bombing and killing of innocent men, women, and children; the igniting of tensions between formerly peaceful countries now at war with each other, and all the horror that war is, and brings. Everything I have listed here, has not been the result of the IRA, or the Red Army, or the US Army, or the Chinese Army, or the Palestinians, or the Israelis. No, these attacks have soley been the result of one group: muslims. angry muslims. irrational muslim. radical muslims. muslims who believe everyone in the world should obey the tenets of their particular religion, as they interpret the writings of their Qu'ran. They want the WHOLE WORLD to live according to their Qu'ran. Word to the muslims: the world has advanced light years beyond camel rides and tents and outdoor plumbing. Whether the muslims like it or not, other societies are far more advanced in almost every area of life itself. If you want to ask your question, why can't we all just get along, then ask the muslims what their problem is. Because the whole world was getting along, until these self-centered, violent, tunnel-visioned people showed up.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  8. Values Voter

    Bottom line:

    Lets treat the christians the same way the uneducated rednecks treated the muslims. When I see a right-winger, I'll look for a bomb. NO CHURCHES BETTER BE BUILT NEAR ME, BURN BABY BURN.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Jake Wheeler

      Typical hate-filled left-winger.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Values Voter

      look up the work "irony", genius. Too stupid too live, arent ya?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Occupation

      except the right wing has the body count associated, wheres the left wings body count dumb a**

      July 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Churches are not used for launching a jihad.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  9. Whatever

    i have an editorial for you Imam, it's call dont #blamethejews

    dont dish it out if you cant take it, aka condem that and people will condem whatever it is you are striving to achieve. until then, you're a hypocrit.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Occupation

      Muslim Jewish conflict is over Palestine, actual conflict, this was religious racist insanity, nothing more.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Whatever

      this is false. it may be "veiled" under the guise of an arab-israeli conflict, but muslims/arabs comments are directed at the religion as a whole. its the same exact thing. you dont hate jews in israel, you hate jews worldwide and blame them for the problems in the world, just like this man blames muslims for the exact same thing in europe.

      admit you're mentalities are the same and we can move forward.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Occupation

      I mock all religions, they are all asinine, lack reason. Taking issue with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn't make someone anti-Semitic. I believe the Jewish people are owned a safe haven after the Nazis, but I also believe Palestinians shouldn't be the only ones to pay that price.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Whatever

      same here. if only this world was filled with more people like us.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Mycology

      all they ever do is blame the jew, blame israel, blame zionism,

      I don't agree with this terrorist attacking children. But he was 100% correct that there is a war of civilizations that THAT war will not end until Islam is purged from the civilized world.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Mycology

      "occupation" – there has NEVER in the HISTORY OF MANKIND been a "palestine" state, country, or culture,

      UNTIL it was convenient to create one (or claim it existed already) in the 60's as a step to destroy Israel (arafat makes that VERY clear, tons of arab leaders make that VERY clear).

      "Palestinians" also known as Arab nomads from surrounding areas, would have had a wonderful place to live if they had not continued to wage war against the Jews.

      But since they who curse the Jews are cursed, and they who bless them are blessed...

      July 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Mycology

      No, muslim jewish conflict is not over that imaginery place you call "palestine" , its because muslims are commanded to kill the jews, all of them (genocide), to bring about the "end of days".

      There has never been a "palestine" country, state, or culture, those fakestinians and their claimed culture is a fraud, a fake, their heritage is a lie and their ancestors failed from the arabian peninsula, and more recently from syria.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Reply to Occupation: Land is a pretext. Arab Muslims already control all of the land in the Middle East except for tiny little Israel, which can't give up any of the land which it currently occupies, and still defend itself from the Arab Muslims that are demanding its destruction. The policy of appeasement didn't work with Hitler, and it won't work with Muslims either.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  10. Loren

    I will echo another comment, the bomber is mischaracterized as a Christian and should properly be characterized as an Ultra-Nationalist. He did not undertake these acts in furtherance of his religious beliefs, since Christianity today, despite its own Dark Ages, preaches tolerance, but rather in furtherance of his political goals, a Norway only for Norwegians.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Occupation

      Christian tolerance, tell that to gay people

      July 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  11. Jake Wheeler

    Ok, right-wing terrorists – 2, Islamic terrorists – 2 million. Happy?

    July 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Occupation

      tell that to their victims, meaningless comparison, both insane

      July 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • joe


      July 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  12. Ali

    The problem isn't any religion (as half the world is pretty much one of the other) but a mentality of intolerance and hatred. I propose we take all the people like this guy and all the jihadists and lock them in a room together so they can take care of it themselves. But no, they both target innocents. Because people who massacre innocents are simply evil, no matter their race or creed.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  13. Allahu Bomb car?

    Unless the Islamic faith steps up and condemns the extremists of their religion for their acts, I will continue to put my money on the Muslim extremist groups who are responsible for, I'd say, 90% of terrorist attacks today. Just being truthful.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Cite your sources for the 90% you claim. The vast majority of Norway's violence since WWII has been from the ultra-right (neo-Nazi's and other racist groups).

      My source: The Guardian of London, Sunday July 24

      July 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • frootyme

      Anyone naming an Organization in the Islam or Muslim doesn't become a representative of them.
      I don't think Pope asked G.W. Bush to start Afghan and Iraq wars though initially he named as Crusade
      then changed the name to so called Enduring Freedom.
      Same is the case for terrorism caused by some idiots in the form of appealing tactic – the name of a Religion.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  14. Loren

    The problem that the commentator fails to recognize is the tendency of those of Islamic faith to isolate themselves from the larger culture in the countries to which they've emigrated. This isolation and the terroristic violence used by an admitted small number of people professing the faith results in a mistrust of Muslims. That the two bombings cited by the authors were not done by Muslims does not counter the scores of horrorific bombings of innocents by Muslims.

    It is the bed that Muslims find themselves in, and the question is whether it is a problem with the people or the faith. I'd argue that a faith that condemns anyone who deosn't believe and incites its followers to a jihad against non-believers is justifiably suspect.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Occupation

      Christians say unbelievers are going to hell and are sinners, no better.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Jake Wheeler

      Studies show around 80% of Muslims support terrorist attacks against their host countries.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Brian

      True. But they don't hasten them going there.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Dewayne

      People really discount the impact that imposed isolation can have. It's not like many people are waiting with open arms for these folks to arrive. Yes, there are terrorists who commit acts of violence on their own, but there are also plenty of racists and bigots out there looking for a target for their hatred.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kafir4life

      Mu$lims say: let's send unbelievers to hell..now..why wait.....the leftist media is trying soooo hard to pin the label "christian" on this nut job...did anybody hear him yell JESUS AKBAAAAR as he was sending the kuffar to hell...the fact is he is as he self described his views, he is an an ultranationalist neo nazi anti immigration anti mu$lims...does anyone know if he evn quoted any Christian doctrine, views, interpretations by any reasonable or unreasonable stretch...meahnwhile hundreds millions of mu$lims recite daily unbelievers bashing Quran verses, especially againts the joooos.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Mycology

      occupation = islamic terrorist apologist.

      Christians leave it to God to "sort em out" to heaven and hell, they do not declare "jihad".

      If you make fun of moses, a devout jew will ignore you,

      if you make fun of jesus, a devout christian will forgive you,

      If you make fun of mohammed, a devout muslim will -KILL- you.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  15. Jeff

    Why don't you tell the Muslims to stop blaming the west for all their problems? They're the ones that need help.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Occupation

      Stop selling weapons to their oppressors and they probably would, unbelievably ignorant person

      July 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Will

      Every "kuffar" who doesn't fully submit to Islamic dominance is considered an "oppressor" by mainstream muslims

      July 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Kafir4life

      And if you dont agree that its all the fault of the west..you are at best a bigot or most likey dead..by the i$lamists or their leftist "pass the puff" cronies

      July 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  16. Occupation

    Brooke Baldwin is awful, cant watch CNN until she is terminated, horrible.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Will

      Is she hot at least? I haven't even bothered watching CNN in 10 years, so I have no idea who she is.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  17. Jeff

    I was waiting for an article like this to come out. Muslims don't get off the hook that easy!

    July 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  18. joe

    #blamethemuslims is to bring awareness about the media blaming muslims, i guess its no surprise they twisted this fact as well.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • gondo

      This Khalid Latif is not realistic. There is nothing wrong with so called "profiling" at airports. 99% of world terrorism is committed by muslims; it just makes sense to be cautious with our security. I'm sorry if thats not Divisive or Inclusive enough for some liberals, or that the media views it as Culturally Insensitive. But it is the reality, and its just too bad if a few bleeding hearts get their sensitive little feelings hurt in the process.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  19. Luke'sCorner

    Did CNN really publish this garbage? Of course all of us with half a brain know that most Muslims aren't terrorist, but when you bring up the radicalization hearings as if they were unjust because of some nutcase in Norway you only discredit yourself from actually being concerned with American safety. You, and all the other sympathizers, go back and reach into the Timothy McVeigh bag to try and pull a "See, it's not just Muslims" and now your creaming your jeans because finally another non-Muslim has done something that you and the rest of the pro-Sharia bunch can point to every time we see innocent civilians slaughtered in the streets.

    When Americans see radicalized Christian converts being arrested every two weeks for some homegrown plot, maybe you'll hearings argument will hold some merit. Until then, Islam still has a stranglehold on the monopoly known as terrorism.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  20. RossTrex

    Big Surprise.. A Muslim "Chaplain?" says don't blame Muslims for terrorism. Just blame terrorism for terrorism. What a convieniant position to have. It single handidly removes Muslims from responsibility and introspection while blaiming the other. Mohammed would be proud.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Occupation

      Terrorism is a tactic not an affiliation. Extreme RELIGIOUS GROUPS use terrorism as a TACTIC

      July 25, 2011 at 4:18 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.