April 20th, 2013
10:57 AM ET

My Take: Don't lump evildoers with Muslims

Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and executive director of NYU's Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

(CNN) - April 19, 2013, marks the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings, a terrorist attack that took the lives of 168 people and injured another 680. In the wake of the tragic events that took place in Boston this week, we should remind ourselves that the actions of a few deranged individuals don’t represent or reflect the communities that they more broadly come from. Timothy McVeigh, the Tsarnaev brothers and the likes of Adam Lanza, Wade Michael Page and Nidal Hasan are a group unto themselves, and we should not let their utter disregard for humanity affect our embrace of it.

This morning I woke up to messages from three different Jewish friends, a current undergrad at NYU, an NYU alum and a rabbi from the Bronx. Their respective messages, though short and simple, represented to me the kind of approach we all should be taking at this time.

"I will walk with anyone who feels unsafe, anywhere they need to go."

"(As) a past member of the NYU community, and as a Jew, I want to wish you, your loved ones and your community safety and health. May G-d bless us all that there is no backlash against the Muslim or any other community over the currently transpiring events. Hatzlacha and Bracha to all of you."

"If you find out any way we can be helpful please let me know."

This is what America is about. The courage of these words resonated deeply within me, especially in response to the cowardice of those who seek to divide us through their hateful acts of violence. Our coming together is our strongest asset in the face of this hate. We should not let terrorists divide us.

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My hope is that no one in Boston is left intimidated by this attack. We should do what we can to alleviate the fear that results from these acts of senseless violence.

It was beautiful to see the response from people - diverse in their race, ethnicity and religion - as they came together to help the people of Boston. My further hope is that we continue to stand together throughout this ordeal and not turn against one another. Our strength lies in embracing our diversity, and just as we are united in our anger and our grief, so, too, should we be united in our resolve.

Leaders of all backgrounds should step forward to condemn any act of bigotry and take full responsibility to ensure that no one further gets hurt due to a backlash from the attacks in Boston.

Racism, xenophobia and anti-religious hatred of any kind goes against the core values of equality and freedom that our country is founded upon, regardless of who is carrying it out or who it is being carried out against.

It is not OK to target innocent people just because they are Muslim. Since Monday, there have already been two hate crimes reported, one targeting an Arab, female doctor in Boston and a second targeting a Bengali man in the Bronx. How is it OK to inflict violence and hate toward individuals simply because of the way they look or their religious affiliation? And even if we are not perpetrating it, how is it OK for us to sit by and let it happen?

Simply put, it's not. We must be better than that.

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My continued thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston, those who we lost, those who were injured, their loved ones, the courageous first responders and the law enforcement that has spent the last week finding those who carried out these heinous acts.

May people once again come from all over to run Boston's streets, and may we not let those who lack compassion triumph.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khalid Latif

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam

soundoff (985 Responses)
  1. BO Stinks

    I could accept his except there is no condemnation from muslim leaders on their bombings.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Virginia Cifelli

      You didn't see them condemn because the media never posts it. Here is just a few that I found...

      CAIR: http://m.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cair-urges-prayers-blood-donations-for-boston-bomb-victims-203112701.html

      MPAC: http://www.mpac.org/issues/national-security/our-thoughts-and-prayers-are-with-all-those-in-boston.php#.UW2L4EIx_zI

      ISNA: http://www.isna.net/isna-expresses-concern-and-condolences-after-attack-at-boston-marathon.html

      ICNA: http://www.icna.org/icna-expresses-outrage-at-boston-bomb-attacks/#more-13934

      Muslim Peace Coalition: http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/americans-respond-to-boston-marathon-bombings/0019758

      Suhaibwebb.com: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/miscellaneous/announcements/condolences-prayers-and-support-after-boston-marathon/

      April 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • They will never be sorry, maybe say

      and also this site you mentioned against france in Mali, the radical muslims were killing innocents there? by the way you are controlling the CNN, so no excuse, and you have aljazeera. and what after the auditor is a Imam and HERE ...!!!!

      by the way you need to talk to you community not us about peace, the murder not the victim

      April 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Mikieisangry


      April 21, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  2. Kake

    Just once I'd love to hear the loud voices of prominent Muslims decrying the murderous actions of their coreligionists rather than whining about the expected anti-Muslim Islamophobic backlash that never quite seems to happen. Once. Please, in a public forum, demonstrate how these terrorists are violating Quran, Hadith, or sharia in any way and explain to the terrorists how they're wrong. Publicly condemn their actions and pronounce them apostates. You've had years to do it, and people are beginning to wonder if maybe the terrorists are, in fact, practicing the true version of Islam. The alternating silence and whiny victimization of the "majority" are wearing thin with the American public.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Quite right, Kake. It makes one wonder if secretly, most "moderate" muslims aren't just fine and peachy with the violence of their more radical members. Just like Christians, I imagine, who claim not to want violence but would sure be in favor of some horrifying military action that would set the stage for the classic tableau of "Christ's return."

      April 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  3. no religion

    Organized Religion is inherently evil, used by corrupt people to push their agenda and views on others.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Concerned Person


      April 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  4. rvwrb

    The problem as I see it is that pretty well all religions do not condemn the actions taken by their followers in their name – and no single religion is exempt except perhaps Buddhism. If the respective religious leaders would come down hard on those who incite violence under their banner at the outset, perhaps the number of incidents world wide would diminish.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  5. styve

    Now if only countries where Muslims are politically dominant would accord Christians, Jews, buddhists and hindus, atheists and other religions that same respect, courtesy and freedom they want and usually get in this country. What a double standard.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  6. LP

    Representatives of Islam such as you are certainly good men, but if you want Islam not to be associated with violence, hate, intolerance, and ignorance, you need to clean your own house. You may be the numerical majority, but you are the visible and vocal minority. Until you can convince Islamist governments and terror groups to change their ways, their hate will be associated with your religion. It is time to get your fellow Muslims in line, or to schism from them and establish a new faith true to the Qu'ran and to peace that can be distinguished from the millions who advocate jihad, oppress women, and hate Jews and others.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Yeah, and while you're at it, Representatives of Islam, get a clue that your outrageous fantasies and supersti'tions are nonsense.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • STFU

      @LP, well khalid's goodness comes out of fear of reciprocation, just look at crook Mohammad Dar, hindu-bot, not afraid to spew his filth because he is out of reach.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  7. Just Call Me Lucifer

    Perhaps you haven't read my personal favorite book of hate... the Quran. You'd think I wrote it, but no. Islam is a religion of hate and exclusion, just like every other religion. Religion is a deadly virus that should be eliminated to save humanity. The only good zealot is a dead zealot.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  8. Robert Johnson

    Islam always asks for tolerance when it is the minority. But when islam is the majority, then the imams call legalized discrimination against non-muslims, implementation of sharia law, and riots at the slightest insult. I wish it were different, but it is not.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Very much like the christians passing laws against atheists, and unconst!tutionally changing the national motto and pledge of allegience?...you mean like that?

      April 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  9. Katia

    What needs to happen if Muslims are to avoid being lumped together with terrorists, is for the leaders of their communities (of NON- terrorist people) to speak up and condemn terrorism. Loudly. Regularly. With sincere conviction. The problem for a lot of people is that the peaceful Muslims don't stand up and be known and speak out against the evil people who use their religion as a justification to commit horrific crimes.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Just Call Me Lucifer

      Muslims are already considered terrorists, simply because they are.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • gulfworks

      I absolutely agree, as many religious leaders don't have the 'moral courage' to give voice to views that may be outside the majority 'groupthink', and thus are failing the diverse community that they serve. This fundamentally boils down to an abuse of power, by someone in a position of significant influence and responsibility. Rather than focusing on excluding 'otherness' from their communities, energy urgently should be redirected towards resolving the discouragingly ongoing issue of violence in the name of religion, collectively.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • DGPro

      If this terrorist act was done by a Tea Party Conservative, would the article written here be about not lumping all the Conservatives into the same mold?

      April 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  10. Jim Bob

    I think we should associate folks with folks that do bad. If the shoe fits......

    April 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  11. bs1

    There are essentially three types of muslims:

    1. Active militant terrorists
    2. Passive supporters of the active militant terrorsits
    3. Those who pretend to be muslim to avoid being murdered by types 1 & 2

    The brothers in Boston were type 2, being given every opportunity for success and a better life. We will surely find that something happened in the 2009 timeframe to the older brother, some failure of his, failure to achieve what he thought he deserves, and he quickly degenerated into a type 1 muslim and it would seem dragged his younger brother down that path as well.

    None of this is "PC" to state, but it is the reality that we must face if civilization is to survive and not be overrun by type 1 muslims.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Your sources for this "information" are?....
      I know several muslims who do not fit into your three catagories, so your logic must be flawed.

      You are aptly named.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Alex

      Riiiight, these guys were the "good" Muslims who just came here for a better life and wanted to be patriotic Americans.

      Like major Nidal Malik Hasan. This guy even "served" his country.... up on a plater.

      People, dod not fall for this PC crud. It's just a scheme they use to lull you into complacency so they can strike more easily.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • cc

      haha dying, totally true. the only thing you forgot is the muslims like family that think they are muslim, and call these muslims "fanatics". only my family doesnt realize they dont actually follow the religion, they are muslim by birth. its the same as "christians" today. the only difference is that "christians" realized a long time ago that their religion had crazy elements, but since they have been brainwashed for centuries, they just stopped following it, but cant seem to realize that means THEY ARE NOT CHRISTIANS. same as muslims that say islam is a religion of peace....if you think that, its cuz you are not actually practicing, but it's so hard to renounce it b/c we have been brainwashed since birth...believing that you would go to hell and craziness like that. thank "god' i saw the light

      April 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  12. Mohammad A Dar, Wholesale Pressure Cooker Supplier, Mecca

    business is booming, all of sudden.

    April 20, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  13. lol??

    "Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

    Death is not natural.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Rom 5:12

      What makes you think that Paul of Tarsus knew anything special?

      April 20, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • lol??

      From Peter.

      "2Pe 3:16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

      April 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • rvwrb

      Death is a natural progression from life

      April 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • rvwrb

      death is a natural result of life

      April 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • lol??

      Death is just you getting paid. No payday loans allowed.

      "Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

      April 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  14. STFU

    Khalid, "how is it OK for us [muslims] to sit by and let it happen?", not just Boston, but London, Paris, Tel Aviv to Mumbai.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • STFU

      Mohammad, when areyou going to learn to write that make any sense? I am lost.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Concerned Person

      I think the Islam guy is using a lot of cocaine and alcohol this morning.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  15. STFU

    Did you hear Mohammad A. Dar, what Imam Khalid said? " Don't lump evildoers with Muslims" he meant guys like you.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • well

      Not all the moslims are terrorists but 98 % of all terror acts were perpetrated by them?

      April 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  16. STFU

    nice try to waterdown Islamic terrorist act Imam Khalid Latif, by opening case with Oklahoma bombing anniversary,

    April 20, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Akira

      Although I agree with his core message, I noticed that, too. Way to deflect.

      April 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  17. Muslim Mothers Against Getting Sons Hanged

    Our sons are innocents, they are always framed.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Everyone has been framed, it seems. By God, at least.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • PaulA

      If they are innocent..why have guns and bombs on them when they was caught?

      April 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      They're just being good americans...We love our guns and things that go boom.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Texan

      They were NRA goons!

      April 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • cougarcat

      Are you a troll?

      April 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Whenever these things happen, determine if the evildoers act out of motivations that come from their religious beliefs. If so, put a quarter in a jar. Soon you'll be able to buy shares in some top-performing stocks. That'll serve you for retirement.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  19. Mamood Muslim

    Don't lump Muslim evildoers with Muslims. Even though they do evil for religious reasons.

    Please don't: we don't like to accept responsibility for the inherent violence of our belief system.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • maryann

      Should I lump all Christians as evildoers since some have bombed abortion clinics because of there beliefs?

      April 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Yuppers

      Sure. Go for it. The widespread Christian repression of gays and gay rights clearly indicates that the flaws of their religion are pernicious and socially detrimental, and not just in fringe killings. Same with Islam and its backwards laws in force in many places.

      Religion is evil.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  20. Colin

    I would never, ever lump evildoers with Muslims. That would be insulting and offensive to evildoers.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Texan


      April 20, 2013 at 5:24 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.