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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. Veritae

    Sorry Chaplain, but when this category of violence rears its ugly head in this country, it seems the word – Muslim, comes attached. What's an American to think? Facts are facts whether we like them or not.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Reality Check

      What about all the white American "non muslims" committing crimes that have taken a lot of innocent lives? What about those facts? And don't tell me its different. Anyone who can take innocent persons life away in my book is a same dirt bag. How they pray or what they wear makes absolutely no difference at all.

      April 21, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • tallulah13

      Not really, Veritae. Google Wade Michael Page. Or Paul Ross Evans. Or Scott Roeder. Or heck, google christian terrorism. It seems sometimes those terrorists come with the word "christian" attached.

      April 21, 2013 at 3:57 am |
  2. Fred Willis

    There is a disturbing element in Islam that is there from the time immediately after the death of Muhammed which is vigilantism. Murder of a possible successor to Muhammed for politico-religious reasons have given the Islamic world more than 1300 years of Shia-Sunni strife. Young men seen to be able to read the Koran and become self-propelled bombers almost overnight. Neither Judaism or Christianity has this potential to individual radicalism.

    I do not know the answer. However, for the sake of all Muslims and for the sake of Islam, Muslims must face this problem and solve it.

    Islam may be the religion of Peace. But it is also the religion of vigilante terrorism.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • Allahu Akbar

      " Neither Judaism or Christianity has this potential to individual radicalism." You might want to visit Northern Ireland and check out their history books.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Robert D

      I have no idea how muslims can say that islam is all about peace. The koran COMMANDS muslims to kill those who do not/will not believe what they are preaching. It is in their 'holy text' for crying out loud. How can they say they are a 'religion of peace' with this kind of stuff being demanded by their religious leader? Maybe someone can clear that up for me. How does a command "kill those who do not believe" translate into peace? Maybe the mean that after muslims have rid the earth of all the infidels then there will be peace....

      April 21, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  3. abahsan

    First and foremost, everyone needs to put aside their personal views and opinions and remember what really matters here: remembering and helping the victims.

    Second, for those that say Muslims will never be welcome in America, I would respond by saying that they already are. Muslims teachers educate your children, Muslim doctors save your loved ones' lives, Muslims in the military fight abroad for our freedom. This is not my opinion. It is fact. I am a Muslim and I taught in Boston/Cambridge for five years. I was a Celtics' season-ticket holder for five years. I am about as "American" as you can get. I love this country and I hate terrorists just as much as the next person. Above all, I grieve for the victims of this terrible tragedy and I will do everything in my power (financial and otherwise) to help in any way I possibly can. God bless all the victims and their families and God bless America.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • Allahu Akbar

      You make some very valid points. But you come up short, like so many others, in denouncing the Islamic extremists and Jihadists.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • abahsan

      Hi there. I'm not sure what else you wanted to hear, but if it helps, let me be clear that I absolutely denounce any form of terrorism, including the cowardly and heinous acts of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Hit me up on my blog (by clicking my username) and I'd be happy to talk more offline. Thanks.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:35 am |
  4. truth

    I do not recall any other religious group causing this much destruction in the past decade. Nor any religious group where its majority is soo silent, which implies support.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:23 am |
  5. scootfl78

    Well no reasonable person would lump an evildoer with Muslims.

    Timothy McVeigh who masterminded the Oklahoma City bombing – not Muslim
    The man who flew his plane into an IRS building in Texas – not Muslim
    Anti-abortion terrorists in the U.S. – not Muslim
    Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, plenty of church leaders in the South, all of whom have done everything they can to spur hatred among their followers – also not Muslim

    Its not Muslims who are terrorizing the country – its religious zealots of all faiths

    April 21, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Tim McVeigh didn't do what he did in the name of his religion.....
      the plane into the IRS also not religion related
      The abortion clinic bombers - On the money with this one.
      the talking heads- while ill agree with you on their corrosive yammering.. still hasn't killed anyone.

      I agree that god/religion has to go absolutely. But Islam by far the biggest threat. taking it case by case and not addressing the root cause will ensure you ll never be free of the violence.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:46 am |
  6. James G

    I would probably agree with you.....but as yet, I have not seen a group of Catholics or southern Baptists...... setting off a pressure cooker... or crashing an airliner into the middle of the Muslim pilgrims circling the Kaaba, during pilgrimage to Mecca. It is far past the time for Muslims, to police their own.....
    YES, there ARE peaceful Muslims in the world....... but it's the few rotten apples at the bottom, ruining it for the rest. It's time to end the rhetoric of complaining, that ALL of Us, non Muslims are picking on you, and being more proactive. The sad thing is, most Muslims KNOW, which mosques are spreading the hate , BUT look the other way. If more Bostons and New Yorks continue to happen , I fear a repeat of the Chinese Exclusion Act ( 1882) , taking place again ; Only this time, it will be Muslims.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:14 am |
  7. Bill Carson

    I would be more comfortable in not lumping in Muslims with the bombers if only Muslims would speak out against the terrorists. As it is, most Muslims hate the U.S. and seem to acquiesce to the actions of terrorists even if they don't personally take terror actions themselves. Gee, let me know if I'm wrong!

    April 21, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • *Sigh*

      Actually they do- a simple google search and in the first 3 results I find lots of official condemnations from many muslim organizations. Just because it gets no media attention doesn't mean that it does not exist. Otherwise if we only believed that what happens is only what's reported in media, wouldn't that make us media sheep?

      April 21, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  8. Steve

    I keep on hearing this "the worst part about terrorism is the risk of Islamophobia." While it's wrong to lump people together, it's also wrong to ignore that by FAR the biggest islamophobes are other muslims, who kill each other on a daily basis for being of the "wrong" sect. They eagerly shout their outrage when a non muslim accidentally kills a muslim, but ignores when muslims deliberately kill each other. It's like how in the US we only care about shootings if the victims are suburban whites but ignore that 30+ blacks shoot each other every weekend in Chicago and all over the US in major cities. Selective outrage is wrong.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Allahu Akbar

      Steve, you are obviously a RACIST.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  9. billmosby

    Eventually, all muslims will see religion as a hobby like most of the rest of the world does and stop taking "jihad" to mean something that is done with weapons. Most muslims do now, but there is kind of a troublesome proportion of them that haven't gotten the memo yet.

    April 21, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  10. John

    DON'T LUMP EVILDOERS WITH AN EVIL RELIGION (ISLAM)....

    April 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  11. Fire and Brimstone

    Forgive the young Muslim heathen child of Islam so he may spread the word to his own, that Gods grace has forgiven him and for now will allow him to try and reverse the sins of his people before the wrath of the true GOD brings fire upon them. Let him bring them into the light of remorse and sorrowfulness and beg for forgiveness before it is to late for them to join the world community of love and brotherhood. In these things I pray for them lord. Please be merciful on those ignorant of your power and grace! The wrath of your power will be wielded by your mighty crusading force of brothers and sisters represented by the US Military and their Allies upon the heads of ignorant Jihadists until there were none and with your Staff behind them thy enemies will bow to their knees and burn forever and ever.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Doobs

      How nice, how tolerant, how loving of you. You're a wonderful christian example.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  12. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF BULLSH.IT

    Not all Muslims are terrorists.

    But all terrorists...are Muslim.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • billmosby

      Like Timothy "Mahmoud" McVeigh, you mean?

      April 21, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Bill Ball

      Can't argue with that at all.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  13. Ex-muslim

    All muslims should be rounded up and deported. Says a liberal ex-muslim (yes, you read that right).

    April 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
  14. Jimmy dee

    You say "leaders of all religions should condemn bigotry (this act of terror)..." And just when will a prominent US based Muslim leader do this? Better, yet, when will NYU's Islamic Center issue a public statement condemning this cowardly bombing?

    April 20, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  15. Bob Knippel

    Each acts of his own accord. Neither religion, nor firearms, are the cause of ones choices.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Fire and Brimstone

      You are half right. It is mostly how they interpret their religion, so in essence it is because of their religion!

      April 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  16. Joshua Merritt

    First off let me explain myself, I am a father of four first and foremost. I am a soldier in the US Army ands a combat vet of Iraq and Afghanistan. I have worked in many realms a in the military and civilian sector, leaving my job as a structural engineer in L.A. after the Sept. 11th attacks. Religiously I am an Odinist as were my ancestors a long time ago. I was questioned about my religion one time when I was in Afghanistan by a prisoner my routes clearance team had caught. He was an older man, been imprisoned by almost every military group who had gone through and was detained for sheltering Taliban and training them. One morning he woke up, seeing the frustration in his face he asked me why we were here. One of the most difficult moments in my life... I have met Muslims around the world, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait and many others. Despite what is said of us in the military, we base people off of the person. Other than the people who shot at my buddies or myself, blew us up or any other deed that took place, the people I meet who are Muslim, after having long talks, and yes I love religious, political and other hotbed topics, I have never lumped extremists in with Muslims. The Muslims I have met at first thought that me being a Texan or a soldier, had many different misnomers about us, one even thought we all had horses in Texas. As soon as we get past classifying and making prejudices about people because of a small few, this world can be a better place. No matter the background, religion or ideology, we are all from the same planet, we share the same air and enjoy so many of the sane things. Let us work together as one and elevate mankind, we are all much better than this petty bickering that we do, over petty differences. If I met a Muslim tomorrow, I will greet him, and treat him with kindness, the same as any day.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Well and sensibly said.

      And thank you for your service.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Fire and Brimstone

      Be very careful when you greet him. Ask him to raise his shirt and show his hands and you may live a long and happy life. You should know this already after serving in the sands down range.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Athy

      Probably the most sensible comment here in quite a long time. Thank you.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Kevin

      I have deep appreciation for your thought being expressed here. Stated that, my experience with the muslims has over the years made me feel the contrary. I have lived in some of the very orthodox Islamic countries in the world and can vouch that I have not come across any muslim who can respect other's faith or their right to practice their faith of choice. They are so blind in their belief that they find every other faith follower, an infidel!!!!!!

      April 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • truthmonger

      Dear Joshua,
      The ground realities are different. These are people who blow up women and children, consider all non muslims as Kafir and wajib e qatl (deserve to be killed), while they will find any excuse to kill you for blasphemy, they will also hide,protect and nurture Osama Bind Laden and many more Osamas in the making. Make no mistake.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Joshua Merritt

      And at that point I will deal with it the same as my ancestors before me. To bring hell on earth unimaginable to ones mind. Be kind and greet someone but always plan to kill them, not just a nice quote for me. I treat someone with respect, until they test me. Always have, always will. I know what the Qu'ran says, I do my research, though I know the Talmud and bible are just as derogatory. I expect my enemies to hide, cheat, steal and even lie to me. Thus is the nature of war. But one is never truly relaxed, even if I am home, in a moments notice, there will be a different story... Basis of this is, treat others how you demand to be treated, but a life for an eye is a just idea as well...

      April 21, 2013 at 12:14 am |
  17. Fire and Brimstone

    Forgive the young Islamic heathen child of Islam so he may spread the word to his own, that Gods grace has forgiven him and for now will allow him to try and reverse the sins of his people before the wrath of the true GOD brings fire upon them. Let him bring them into the light of remorse and sorrowfulness and beg for forgiveness before it is to late for them to join the world community of love and brotherhood. In these things I pray for them lord. Please be merciful on those ignorant of your power and grace! The wrath of your power will be wielded by the mighty crusading force of god represented by the US Military and their Allies upon the heads of ignorant Jihadists until there were none and with your love behind them thy enemies will bow to their knees and burn forever and ever.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  18. Reality

    Only for the eyes of sister and brother Muslims to include Khalid Latif:

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi--–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..
    _________________________________________________________________________

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    April 20, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Tom

      When was last time you took your medications, seriously.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Allahu Akbar

      Translation: In five steps to abolish the effect of 1400 years of Islamic mythology:

      (- Steps to take less than two minutes to finish – simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls is priceless!)

      Are you ready?

      The use of "77 Islamic branches of" faith "group of Imam Bayhaqi compiled as a starting point. In it, which explains the essential virtues that reflect true" faith "(faith) through the relevant Quranic verses and sayings of the Prophet." Ie a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      The first five of the 77 branches:

      "1. Belief in God"

      As is also known as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to the neurons of your self-cleansing.

      "2. To believe that everything other than God does not exist. Then, God created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi b G-NAB" (at the start of the universe to recycle) are more likely should be included in the "falling" for God's sake if you do not continue to be a "Crea, tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels / de VILS are creations legendary ancient civilizations, for example HITT ites, to explain / define natural events, contacts with their gods, and large birds, the wind sudden, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "ثينجيس paving the way for a beautiful / UG -LY "ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today I will classify angels as F-airies the "tin CARE be LLS". Modern classified do VILS as de Mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      One of the main items to delete. There are no books in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write / publish / distribute. Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the uneducated masses in line. Today we call them sort of harmony voices.

      Prophecies as invali dated by the natural / God / Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him
      Peace be upon him) alone. "

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via "ممتزوجات paving the way for the beautiful." Common sense requires delete neurons from # 5. # 5 is also the main source of Islamic VI-olence any shift Muhammad "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for non-believers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee full recovery from your Islamic ways!!

      Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators / readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

      Similar steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism.

      April 21, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Allahu Akbar

      Oresnay

      April 21, 2013 at 12:59 am |
  19. Googoo

    I lump Muslims together with Christians, Jews, and all other ignorant, weak-minded, brainwashed morons.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • lol??

      Now yer gettin' it! Great work.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
  20. Joe in Kalispell

    1. Not all Muslims are terrorists
    2. All recent terrorists are Muslims

    April 20, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Jen L

      Not all recent terrorists are Muslims. You define terrorist act to be an act of terror done by Muslims in order to justify this stance. Sandy Hook was terrorism. The Sikh temple attack was terrorism. Christian churches, synagogs, Mosques, and other temples have been burned down in the US by non-Muslims. And of course, there's the attacks on abortion clinics by Christians and the failed attacks on police parades by right-wing extremist groups.

      And this is just in our country. In other countries there have been attacks by Jews and Christians in addition to attacks by Muslims.

      Your selection bias and confirmation bias problems do not change the facts.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • LadyK

      James Holmes (Aurora CO theater shooting) = not a Muslim
      Adam Lanza = not a Muslim

      You don't need to use bombs to be a terrorist.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
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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.