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. sanjosemike

    Imam Latif, your written publication here sounds very nice. It certainly is what Westerners (Americans) want to hear.

    There are some problems however: Each of the members of your Congregation (as do you) believes that Israel must be destroyed. Naturally you will not print that.

    Written publications and conversations in Arabic are FAR different from the material you published here.

    Another problem is "Taqiyya" (lying to promote Islam). This is commanded in Hadith.

    You may be surprised to know that some Americans know this. We are not all as stupid as you think.


    April 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Christopher Palmer

      It is time for Islam to leave the USA

      April 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • G to the T

      Destruction of Isreal and lying for the faith – considering Isreal was set up by Christians hoping to jump-start the apocalypse and christianity also has a tradition of "pious falsehoods" so I wouldn't be too self-riteous....

      April 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  2. Realist

    I don't understand the logic of comparing Islam to Christianity in terms of violence. Going back to the crusades to show Christians were barbaric? Who cares what happened hundreds of years ago? What about now? There aren't thousands of Christians plotting mass murder in the name of Christianity, and there isn't a systemic problem within Christianity where Christian beliefs are motivating followers to kill. Sure there have been a few abortion bombers in the past few decades, but they weren't part of a larger movement being funded by other Christians and led by Christian leaders, and they weren't hellbent on killing and maiming as many innocent people as possible. Also, how can anyone ignore the disproportionately high percentage of terrorist acts in the past couple of decades committed by Muslims? And it's not like they just happened to be Muslims killing for some other reason ... their religious beliefs are what drove their terrorism. Why are they so much more likely to "misinterpret" their religion than followers of other religions?

    April 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Not quite

      There were twenty years ago. Guess you forgot.

      April 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

      Well, you don't have to go back to the crusades–just Google "Christian Terrorism." Ever hear of the KKK?? The KKK was once a "Christian Terror" group. Perhaps today they can be "downgraded" to "hate group" status but there are numerous Christian hate groups in existence in the U.S. right now.

      April 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

      There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. If they all believed in terrorism then we'd have a really big problem. Only the terrorists make the news–people don't make the news for just raising their children and living in peace like 99.99% of all Muslims in the world. Christianity and Christian doctrine has always been central to the belief system of the KKK but people in the U.S. don't go around claiming all Christians are like the KKK.

      April 20, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Realist

      So about ten people are killed by abortion bombers in the US in the past 20 years, and you think that somehow is equivalent with what Muslims have done within the same time period? Read the news much? And as for the KKK and other Christian "hate groups", what terrorist act has been committed by them recently? Why do you have to go back so far into the past and grasp at straws? And although the KKK began as a Christian fellowship, it isn't fueled by religious beliefs. In fact, Christianity has distanced itself as much as possible from the KKK.

      Of course most Muslims are peaceful people. Is there any major group of people, whether by ethnicity, religion, or nationality, where the majority is violent? Of course not. But the fact remains that Muslims are disproportionately more likely (and by a wide margin) to commit terrorism than other religions, and what's driving them to commit terrorism is their religion. Don't believe me ... for each major religion divide the number of terrorist acts (or deaths from terrorist acts) within the past 10 years carried out by their members and then divide by the number of followers of that religion. Here's a spoiler – it won't make Islam look like the religion of peace.

      April 21, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Offthepink

      Here's the funny part: muslims bring up the crusades: THEY WERE THE REASON FOR THE CRUSADES!! The crusades were a defensive war to beat back the ransacking muslim army trying to take over Europe. That's all the followers of this religion have done since it's founding: ransack, kill, and blame others for their reaction to being ransacked and killed.

      April 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • G to the T

      @Offthepink – I think you should do a bit more reading. The Children's Crusade of 1212 was in response to Islam hostility? The first Crusade was almost 400 years after the conquest of Levant...

      April 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  3. Carl

    Religion is stupid. Sometimes it inspires people to do good things for stupid reasons, sometimes it inspires people to do bad things for stupid reasons. But it is impossible to distinguish between "good" and "bad" religion without external logic. Religion itself is useless for distinguishing between its own good and bad forms because by being religious you are starting from a foundation of irrationality.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • lol??

      Jesus said you could tell em by their fruitcakes. Maybe it was dehydrated. You get the drift?

      April 20, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  4. Thomas

    .. Hey I know lets ask the little muslim boy where is his "God" now!

    April 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm |

    Yo learn cause of conflict among humanity, please visit Limitisthetruth.com.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm |

      (but turn off virus protection before go to my site)

      April 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • STFU

      no thanks, you have covered enough, if I may summarize your posts, Muslims are terrorists by nature, not by religion.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  6. NateFromIndiana

    I grit my teeth whenever there's an open comment section on a piece like this because inevitably the Islamophobes come out of the woodwork to spew their attacks.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm |

      They are not Americans, but hindu secular s, filthy self centered, working for intelligence agency from hindered gutter of hindu secularism, filthy self center ism india, to spew their hinduism absurdities for their hindu ugly propaganda.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      At least these are words eh....better than bombs, machetes, stones, acid, airliners. At what point should we start taking notice if not now?

      Cracks me up... Islamic run nations are human rights nightmares – nobody says jack. they blow shiit up right and left, fly airliners into buildings, bomb subways. blow up buses, chop heads off on Youtube, beat and kill people in the streets of Europe and we re not supposed to notice??

      If you haven't noticed the militants seem to be calling the shots in Islam.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

      salam alaikum brother nate or whatever your real name is !!!

      April 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • lol??


      "Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

      April 20, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  7. TAJ

    Dude, they're ALL Muslims.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • manny

      You are right. They are all Muslims..

      April 20, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  8. Iman

    I just want to make it plain that obeying whoever is older than you in Chechen culture is a sacred tradition! because of the continuous military attacks of the centuries by Russians, the Chechens lived almost a military like lives! Specially the males! There are many examples, that I cannot include in my comment, but Jahar had to obey his older violent brother! He had to follow him and had to even sacrifice his life for him if necessary! its wrong! but I guess Jahar could not recognize the fine line, when you stop obeying and listen to your mind! I understand in a way, because obedience is so engrained in our culture that its almost crazy sometimes! you have to obey elders even on the expense of your life

    April 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • asdhj

      "Don't lump evildoers with Muslims" <– Then why are they always blowing everything up?????

      April 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  9. clarity

    Jesus is the answer. God is real and I believe in him. To God be the glory.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm |

      the one never existed, but in minds of hindu Pundits, criminal tricksters.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Akira

      Stop stealing lowercase clarity's name. Thou shalt not steal, remember?

      April 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Thomas

      Thats right

      April 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  10. brian

    dont group all muslims with terrorist but group all us honest gun owners with these few crazies who shoot up up people

    April 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm |

      Owning gun is a right of every citizen, guns do not kill people, but hindus criminals do, by their hindu secular ism, filthy self cennter ism.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • STFU

      ya guns don't kill people, but pressure cookers do, so STFU Mohammad.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Thomas

      Iam with u STFU

      April 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  11. Jersey Jackson

    All muslims may not be Terrorists and criminals. But All Terrorists and Criminals of the world are muslims. It is a shameful religion for the human kind.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I forgot that Timothy McVey was Muslim. Christians are killing Muslims in Nigeria. Christians committed genocide less than 20 years ago. Yes extremist Muslims regularly do terrible things, but Christians are not angels.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Don't be so stupid.

      Except for the ones that aren't.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Sean

      ever heard of Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Kevin Harpham, Ted Kazinski?

      April 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Thomas

      2 Thumbs up for this guy!

      April 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • manny

      Of course they are Muslims. Some are going back to Timothy McVeigh just to justify the crimes of these barbarians.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  12. John

    Muslims hate us they all hate us and they will always hate us. Their civilization had a 4,000 year head start on the US yet we are to blame for every bit of their problems. They are unable to help themselves so they kill the people they are jealous of. And it's all the fault of their religion. Before they were Muslims they were world leaders in science, math and medicine.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Raj

      4000 years?
      islam is barely a 1000... think you got them misunderstood with the Hindus of India, who invented mathematics, yoga, medicinal science and astronomy.
      You need to read some books before posting stuff .

      April 20, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Jose

      "Muslims hate us they all hate us and they will always hate us. Their civilization had a 4,000 year head start on the US yet we are to blame for every bit of their problems."

      Islam is not a civilization and it hasn't been around for 4000 years. Do yourself a favor and go back to school.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Islam is roughly 1350 years old.

      Islam started most of the fights it have fought. They invade Europe first (spain 700ad – just after mohammad died)

      That is one reason (just one – but a major one) that triggered the Crusades. But muslims like to forget that fun little fact.

      John was on the money about them hating us....Just look at Europe to see how well they assimilate.... there are Muslim only districts now in London and Paris. Ra pe and Violent crime shot through the roof in the Scandinavian Countries – all muslim driven. In this country look at Detroit- they are doing their damnedest to create a muslim only district there....they don't use the strong-arm tactics as they do in Europe because they don't yes have the numbers....but once they do it ll be the same story.

      April 20, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • G to the T

      Crusades were almost 400 years after muslims conquered southern Spain. Hardly a counter-attack...

      April 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  13. se se

    Keep on telling yourself... this is a religion of peace, this is a religion of peace, this is a religion of peace. Repeat....

    April 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |

      believe it, and it is not for hindu secular s, criminal self centered, living a life of hindus, criminals.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Kurt Turner

      It's a religion of pieces because they will blow you up into tiny little pieces....

      April 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  14. billybilly

    That is a weak comparison, western nations do not define themselves by their religions, Muslim nations do. Muslims to this day kill in the name of their religion, Western nations have not done that in a long long time.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

      and hindus criminal by faith have been doing it for ages and live by hinduism racism, a way of life of hindus, killers.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • G to the T

      But can you see where people from countries that combine governement/religion might see an act of war by our country as having a religous component?

      April 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Amit-atlanta-USA

    While it's a fact that not all Muslims are terrorists it's AN ABSOLUTE FACT that many Terrorists are indeed Muslims.

    Having said that Americans will trust these Muslim leaders ONLY if they willingly provide info on the conspirators lurking in their communities, and open their Mosques to federal investigators given the fact that by eth FBI's own estimates OVER 80% OF AMERICAN MOSQUES PREACH some form of RELIGIOUS HATRED.

    This' what a Pakistani radio host Fasi Zaka said "The silent majority does not want to take out a gun and shoot anyone, but at the same time they're not appalled by it when somebody else does – The majority are enablers."

    April 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  16. Irving

    Sounds much more like Latif is offering an excuse rather than an apology.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  17. Charlie Brown

    Admittedly Christianity has its own share of evildoers. That being said, the thing that bothers me is this: if I scan the pages of Aljazeera, I see the news being reported, but I don't see any condemnation of the two brothers or their deeds. I can't help but wonder why that is, and one of my conclusions is that Muslims don't condemn those deeds.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • billybilly

      Western nations do not kill in the name of Christ, Muslim nations do kill in the name of allah.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • faberm

      You see no condemnation by Al Jazeera because they support such conduct.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

      Norm of humanity is to eliminate hindu secular ism, criminal self center ism, and living by it, a hindu criminal life.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  18. Colin

    Don't tell us how to act. Tell the Muslims.

    April 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

    present day conflict borne out denial of copulating rights of muslim men with goats.

    April 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  20. Amit-atlanta-USA

    I have known dozens of Muslims in my life, I have moved away from most of them, PRETEND to be friends with just a few, and truly RESPECT & ADMIRE just one or two!

    April 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • a word of advice for Amit

      keep "one or two" close, rest closer.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Kevin

      I think that they should have stayed in their own country. Obviously they will never fit in with this nation because they don't like Americans. Why are they here? Does anyone out there understand why so many have been allowed to move here?

      April 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • STFU

      Kevin, they come here to escape:

      -brutal dictators,
      -taliban type people,
      -for future of their kids,

      but once they land here, spend year or so, they become:

      -staunch supporters of dictators back home,
      -demand rights to practice taliban style religion here
      -demand locals to allow them to practice their religious laws, Sharia
      -engaged in activities, like sending money or supporting terrorist groups,
      -and complain about American policies, like supporting allies in middle east

      April 20, 2013 at 9:14 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.