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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. sam strickland

    SCIENCE FLIES PEOPLE TO THE MOON--RELIGION FLIES PEOPLE INTO BUILDINGS.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • art

      simplistic much? Science also creates explosions in texas, and wars with weapons. Let's not downplay the role of science in mass murders.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • faith

      "sam strickland
      SCIENCE FLIES PEOPLE TO THE MOON–RELIGION FLIES PEOPLE INTO BUILDINGS." lol

      April 21, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • faith

      "sam strickland
      SCIENCE FLIES PEOPLE TO THE MOON–RELIGION FLIES PEOPLE INTO BUILDINGS."

      in all seriousness, it is the golden rule, really. when all is said and done the only thing that counts is that xtians don't apply it and Nazi atheists live by it 24/7

      April 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Science provides power because it isn't science if it doesn't work. God provides no power, or we'd be using that for fuel and running computers.

      BELIEF in myths provides reasons to use the power provided by science. Christians and muslims use the same science because they must; they worship different gods because they can.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • faith

      "art
      simplistic much? Science also creates explosions in texas, and wars with weapons. Let's not downplay the role of science in mass murders."

      let's be fair. nazi atheists really have it rough. they not only detest christianity, they use its principles to condemn the people they hate for believing in it. if you think the bible is irrelevant, sick, violent and disgusting, just consider the nazi atheists. they embrace it whenever they believe an enemy needs severe punishment.

      April 21, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • faith

      "Moby Schtick
      Science provides power because it isn't science if it doesn't work. God provides no power, or we'd be using that for fuel and running computers.

      BELIEF in myths provides reasons to use the power provided by science. Christians and muslims use the same science because they must; they worship different gods because they can."

      wow. another genius! beautiful. thank you

      April 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • faith

      got to hand it to these nazi atheists. they are very sharp. really. i am impressed.

      April 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I've never heard of a Nazi atheist. The Nazis were Christians. Besides, atheists don't think it's a great idea to torture people forever, Christians do when they agree with their god and call him "good."

      April 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      "Do unto others...."

      Well, then god must want to be tortured forever in a pit of fire.

      April 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • faith

      "Moby Schtick
      "Do unto others...."
      Well, then god must want to be tortured forever in a pit of fire."

      poor baby

      April 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  2. vincent442

    Yeah the silence from the "peaceful,moderate" Muslim leaders is deafening.
    It seems that everyone BUT the Muslim leadership is falling over each other apologizing for the radical Muslim stereotype.
    Unfortunately in the writ of public opinion Islam will continue to suffer until leadership is shown.
    Reminds me of OJ Simpson's pledge to fine the "real killers" of Nicole Brown Simpson.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Ben

      Pretty much the same thing happens when Israelis attack Christian holy sites in Israel.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  3. Sam Galt

    None of mankind's fictional gods are real. So it would be better for everyone if the christians, jews, and muslims just stopped all the selfish nonsense (they are ALL motivated by greedy ego, to live after they die)

    April 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • faith

      "Sam Galt
      None of mankind's fictional gods are real. So it would be better for everyone if the christians, jews, and muslims just stopped all the selfish nonsense (they are ALL motivated by greedy ego, to live after they die)" lol

      i tried telling you all, these idiots are the funniest morons on ert.

      April 21, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Water For The Burn

      @Sam Galt Selfish nonsense? Greedy ego? A follower of the Darwin theory, I bet. But don't hate on those who believe in the afterlife, and a greater power.

      @faith it's funnier when a grown, educated person spells "ert" as a shortform for "earth"

      April 21, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  4. sam strickland

    ANOTHER BOMB-ANOTHER MUSLIM-WHERE IS THE ARGUMENT IN THEIR FAVOR.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Sam

      There was a time when I used to have the same mind set. In all honesty, and I don't mean to sound like im attacking you but, everyone has something to bring to the table regardless of thier religion. I recommend getting to know people of different backgrounds including muslims in your community and try and absorb the culture while passing on a peice of your own culture and you will see that most people are peaceful and no different than you. Plus I promise your life will change for the better.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  5. STFU

    Only in America, muslims rush to file disclaimers, most probably advised by their attorneys, lobbyists, never heard these good muslims saying a word, when terrorist attacks happen in other part of the world.

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

      shut up you terrorist, where is your pressure cooker Mohammad?

      April 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • STFU

      Shut up and stop stereotyping. Not all of us are necessarily named Muhammad. Like not all of you are necessarily named John, James, Dick or Clark!

      April 21, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  6. Lon King

    Then why does it seem that ALL evildoers are Muslim?????

    April 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • rs1201

      That's what everyone keeps wondering!

      April 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • M Reza

      Hitler is not a MUSLIM

      April 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Jamie

      Tim McVeigh was a white boy from middle America and look what he did to Oklahoma City.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • LadyK

      Wade Michael Page.(shooter on Wisconsin Sikh temple back in August 2012) = white supremacist skinhead. Not Muslim.

      Adam Lanza & James Holmes = not Muslims.

      You don't need to use bombs in order to be an evildoer, or even a terrorist.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • S. Tina

      Hey Lion King, King of the pride, if you claim "ALL evildoers are Muslims" then why don't you prove it and give me an explicit list hah?

      It doesn't mean that every time there is a bombing, it's terrorism. Doesn't mean every time there is terrorism, Muslims are to blame. Let's look at who built the first atomic bomb shall we?

      April 21, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  7. Jeebusss

    The problem isn't other people lumping evildoers with Muslims, it is so many Muslims being the evildoers.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Yuppers

      Same with Christians. You have the fringe bombers, but you have the mainstream "let's vote away the rights of people we don't like" Christians, which is almost all of them. There are many levels of culpability in religion.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • rs1201

      yep!

      April 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Jeebusss

      Indeed. Christians are equally nuts but currently express it in a different way. Muslims seem to currently have the market cornered on barbaric violence. All societies will be better off once we dispense with these fairy tale based organizations.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jethro

      Ted Kaczinsky
      Timothy McVeigh
      Wade Michael Page
      Eric Rudolph
      Joseph Stack

      Ya...those Muslims sure have the market cornered on violence!

      April 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • buffalojon

      @Jethro – "cornering the market" refers to having a huge majority without a monopoly. How about you name all the non-Muslims who have committed terrorist acts in the last 50 years and I will name all the Muslims who have committed terrorist acts in the last 5 years, then we'll see how informed your comment appears.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  8. emilie56

    It would of course, be much simpler for non Muslims if the majority of terrorists were not Muslim. Yes, we can point to our own home grown Christian terrorist with Oklahoma City or the horrid Neo-Nazi groups but they are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Muslims engaged in fringe group thinking. Moreover, the press has been very kind when they neglected to mention how the Muslim community in N.J was cheering the downfall of the towers on 9/11. So basically our press and country have been protecting so-called "innocent Muslims" ever since 9/11. It would be interesting to know what the Muslim community and the Imams of various religious houses were doing to discourage members of their flock from turning to the fringe group of terrorists the minute they see something in America they do not like. Particularly people who have benefited from all that America has to offer like these 2 killers. They represent evil and the rest of us do wonder what is it in the Islamic mind set that thinks it's perfectly okay to wreak as much havoc as possible by killing innocent people in the street? Muslims need to discover what it is in their holy books that would turn people into killers and then take those passages out of the books. For us westerners, if the Bible mentions killing of those who oppose us, and it was written in the year one, we ignore it. Apparently many Muslims do not ignore the same in their own holy books.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • STFU Emille

      Correction: nothing in the holy book, Quran or Bible, say anything about killing and wreaking havoc. Get your facts right! Islam forbids the taking of life. The Islamic teachings do not promote kamikaze acts of strapping oneself with bombs in the name of Islam. They do not promote acts like this to take innocent lives either. Killing is frowned upon in every religion, including Islam. Look into the facts, before you open your mouth!

      April 21, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  9. SamSam

    I was born into a Hindu family, the same country as Buddha was born and went to a Christian school which played the biggest part in making me a decent person that I am today (and strive to be everyday). Another country besides the US gave me birth, but this great country gave me destiny just like it has to many. It sickens me that some people can even imagine to cause harm to the country that gave them a place to call home. With that said, I agree with most of the people here. I think we need our Muslim countrymen/women to stand up and condemn what happened and tell America know that the acts of these people do not represent them and their religion,

    April 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  10. Tim

    I knew it was a Muslim as soon as they said a pressure cooker was involved.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  11. paul

    islam is a radical religion, there is a few good people that are islamics, but the bad far exceeds the good, WHY did the goverment bring those people into our country when our people was telling them not to??? it is my opinion that if any one of them does those kind of acts that they deport them with thier entire families back to where they come from, includeing any locals that inter married with them, for god,s sake goverment people even russia was telling you ,s had a major problem with them, the american goverment is so hatefull of the russians that the american goverment will accept anything that opposes the russians , deport those entire families and close of any more immigration or visitations from that country, the american goverment will befriend any persons or dictators that will oppose anyone they oppose.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  12. southtexas

    Agree....we have plenty of Christian nuts too as these two Muslim nuts since Evil is Evil no matter if they are black, white, Asians, Mexicans, fat, thin, rich, poor, ugly, pretty, single, married, female, male, minors, etc.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • David

      Yeah, but Christian nut jobs just annoy the crap out of us. They don't plant bombs next to children. I'm all for Muslim internment camps, hold them, deport them.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • rs1201

      Well actually...McVeigh planted the bomb next to a day care center in the FBI bldg in Oklahoma. Many children died on that day.
      The problem that the author of this article doesn't seem to realize is that the actions of the three Jews who left him messages of support and friendship would not be reciprocated by muslims. That is if Jews had perpetrated this attack, I can assure you that muslims would not be rushing to their succor. Muslims have a serious problem amongst their people. No other group in the world does what muslims do...and with the frequency that they do it!

      April 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • faberm

      Really? I had not heard about Christian suicide bombers flying overseas to kill muslims.

      April 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Frank

      McVeigh's actions were not motivated by religion...

      April 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • dan b

      I love how after each new Muslim terrorist attack their idiot apologists trot out Timothy McVeigh's bombing (a crime from 20 years ago that was not motiviated by religion) to justify yet another in an endless string of attrocities by Muslims that were all motivated by religion.

      April 20, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
  13. Reality

    To the nitty-gritty:

    "What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers, Flight 93 and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims to include Khalid Latif must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    April 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Reality

      And yes indeed the Old Testament lists the following god-approved atrocities: Assuming god exists. ( And Moses as per the rabbis of the 1.5 million Conservative Jews did not exist)

      To wit:

      •Exodus 32: 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf.

      •Numbers 31: After killing all men, boys and married women among the Midianites, 32,000 virgins remain as booty for the Israelites. (If unmarried girls are a quarter of the population, then 96,000 people were killed.)

      •Joshua: ◦Joshua 8: 12,000 men and women, all the people of Ai, killed.
      ◦Joshua 10: Joshua completely destroys Gibeon ("larger than Ai"), Makeddah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. "He left no survivors."
      ◦Joshua 11: Hazor destroyed. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), estimates the population of Hazor at ?> 50,000]
      ◦TOTAL: if Ai is average, 12,000 x 9 = 108,000 killed.

      •Judges 1: 10,000 Canaanites k. at Battle of Bezek. Jerusalem and Zephath destroyed.
      •Judges 3: ca. 10,000 Moabites k. at Jordan River.
      •Judges 8: 120,000 Midianite soldiers k. by Gideon
      •Judges 20: Benjamin attacked by other tribes. 25,000 killed.

      •1 Samuel 4: 4,000 Isrealites killed at 1st Battle of Ebenezer/Aphek. 30,000 Isr. k. at 2nd battle.
      •David: ◦2 Samuel 8: 22,000 Arameans of Damascus and 18,000 Edomites killed in 2 battles.

      ◦2 Samuel 10: 40,000 Aramean footsoldiers and 7,000 charioteers killed at Helam.
      ◦2 Samuel 18: 20,000 Israelites under Absalom killed at Ephraim.

      •1 Kings 20: 100,000 Arameans killed by Israelites at Battle of Aphek. Another 27,000 killed by collapsing wall.
      •2 Chron 13: Judah beat Israel and inflicted 500,000 casualties.
      •2 Chron 25: Amaziah, king of Judah, k. 10,000 from Seir in battle and executed 10,000 POWs. Discharged Judean soldiers pillaged and killed 3,000.
      •2 Chron 28: Pekah, king of Israel, slew 120,000 Judeans

      •TOTAL: That comes to about 1,283,000 mass killings specifically enumerated in the Old Testament/Torah.

      The New Testament has only one major atrocity, that of god committing filicide assuming you believe in this Christian mumbo jumbo. Said atrocity should be enough to vitiate all of Christianity.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • dan b

      wow, you really know your Bible. But who cares...1) that was 4,000 years ago, 2) Muslims are doing stuff like this right NOW!

      April 21, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  14. zaphed

    I have a Q , is there an editor to update my great comment, I have a typo, I meant "why does not god send updates" . Thanks

    April 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  15. zaphed

    Here is my advice, step outside of yourself and take a look at your community and the way you behave and treat freedom and women's right. Just stop for a second and ask, is this really what a loving god would ask for? I am an atheist after i was christian and I have exposure to moslims and jews. Really, we are in the 21st centrury and it is time to question old time beliefs that, at some point in the distant past, were valid. Also, why dopes not god send updates to his vision for his creation? Instead you rely on cryptic messages written eons ago. I am not putting you down, I am asking you and the rest of humanity, including our backward christians in USA, to evolve. Use your brain, it is a treasure.

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

      No, zaphed, we do not need to evolve. Your lack of faith is your problem – don't make it mine. We Christians realize that the old Testament was supplanted by the new Testament, as God intended. To reiterate many other posts here: there is NO other religion on earth (of which I am aware) that enjoins their followers to practice jihad, except Islam. Until we accept that reality, none of us will be safe.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  16. PaulA

    Not once did the author condemn this act of terrorism outright. He did not get on his soap box and shout it out. Interesting.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Palid

      Are you retarded? Did you not read the article? what more do you want? It's not our job to give individual apologies. We denounce terrorism, and we have over and over again on many occasions

      April 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • They will never be sorry, maybe say

      after every attack they are ready to preach us about the peace and their right. Only thal like relaxing us till the next attack

      April 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Kay

      Oh, come on!! He condemned *all* terrorist acts...as we *all* should.

      Have *you* gotten up on a soap box and condemned all individual acts of evil committed by people of *your* faith (or lack of faith)? People of *your* heritage? Or is it only Muslims that should be required to do so?

      April 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • dan b

      Kay – it is muslims who are required to do so because they commit the vast majority of the terrorists attacks in the modern era and their leaders never really apologize...so yes is the answer to your question

      April 21, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  17. Guido

    Tired of reading articles like this. Yes, I know there have been non-Muslim terrorists.
    I also know that increasingly, the argument that Islam is a religion of peace is a weak one.
    Authors like Latif have adopted a "blame the victim" mentality, in that they conclude that if we dare make the obvious correlation between Islam and terrorism, we somehow become the retoractive cause of the violence through our inate racism. This is a tired and false position.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  18. Steve- Illinois

    Until the peacefull Musliims speak out, publicly, against these attacks, people will relate their silence to complicity. Don't like it? Then come out against these terrorist, loudly, and publicly.
    No different than the way gangs take over neighborhoods, if you refuse to stand up and testify, you lay down and dodge the bullets.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • David

      Absolutely...

      April 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  19. Jason Viper

    When does enough become enough? Seems we see these articles about "don't blame Islam" every few months after the murder of innocent civilians in the name of Islam somewhere in the world. It's not like we can single out some thugs by the way they dress, walk, talk, and act. The perpetrators are coming from all walks of life. How do I know the writer of this article won't blow up his local preschool one day? I can't. As much as I try to be understanding and compassionate, it's becoming harder to do. Eventually, America is going to cross that threshold of anger, throw all political correctness out the window, and deal with the problem head on. If this type of thing keeps happening, the calls for turning the middle east into a sheet of glass will become louder, as will internment camps and expulsion for all Muslims and people of middle eastern descent. Unfortunate, but what else can we as a society do if this continues to happen.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • hamurabi

      Do you mean just like the Jews who throughout the history were kicked out of every single European country? Do you justify the actions of these European counties? You cannot have both ways. Your comment sounds very ignorant and uneducated, you bigot!

      April 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • dan b

      The difference between the muslims now and the Jews historically is that the Jews historically were never guilty of anything they were accused of doing but, of course, the all the muslim terrorists proudly proclaim their guilt

      April 21, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  20. Jack 3

    I think we need more onfo but i guarantee you, the muslim religion played a part in it. It's the mentality that this religion is producing around the world that is causing this type of action from muslims. How do we know or not if the older one met with radicals during his visit to Chechnya?

    April 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I guarantee you that christianity played a part as well.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:05 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.