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. norm

    It is impossible to blame all muslims for this and then not blame all americans for the sickness and evil a small percentage of their right-wing redneck fascist nazi retards have. If you hate muslims for the boston bombings, you must have yourselves, america.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Enoch

      No it isn't. I can do it.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  2. 12 oz Raw Meat

    You are, all of you, unable to see beyond stereotypes to find reality. You should not fear Muslims, Christians or Jews. You should fear the image in the mirror.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • dan b

      i just looked in the mirror – wasn't afraid. But I am afraid of the guy speaking arabic cuz he's more likely than any other citizen to set off the bomb

      April 21, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  3. tallulah13

    It is stupid to blame all for the actions of the few. I believe religion itself is one of the most divisive forces on this planet (if not the most) but the radicals of any faith are the minority. Sadly, they are the ones who get the most press.

    As long as we keep pointing fingers at the innocent as well as the guilty, radicalism will continue to grow. Nothing is gained by blaming all muslims for the actions of the few. It simply proves the radicals right.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

    Thanks you !!

    April 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  5. Scott

    My Take; These evildoers are directly linked to Islam! Do not ignore the connection!

    April 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I suspect that the younger brother was more influenced by the older brother than by any religion.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Chief


      April 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  6. Steve

    I will keep my beliefs that all Muslims hate the USA and want to end our way of life as long as they keep cheering what the extremists are doing.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • billybilly

      When they get democracy they seem to put terrorist extremists into office, those are not the actions of moderates that is for sure.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • ari

      it is not fair to say that ALL muslims hate america and cheer terrorists. some do, surely. maybe even a significant number of them. but america is fairly good at assimilating people, and there are many assimilated muslims here who aren't even that religious and certainly don't hate the country.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  7. SeeBee

    Though both have a violent history the number of people killed by muslims pale in comparison to those killed by Christians. Timurlame, a brutal warrior who called himself the 'sword of islam' massacared more than 5% of humanity in the 14th century. In the conquest of Delhi, India in 1398, 100,000+ Hindus were killed in a single day and their chopped heads were put on poles. In Persia and elsewhere same mayhem was repeated, leaving people no option but to convert to this ideology of hatred. !

    April 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • EX catholic

      Those so called "christians" were almost all Roman-catholics. They are not Christians they are IDOLATERS and IDOLATRY is not a christian thing but a Very grave and serious SIN. So don't confound one with the others.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Dusty

      That was 100 to 1000 of years ago. Those folks don't realize the world doesn't except that type of behavior any more.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • ME II

      @EX catholic,

      Yeah, Idolatry is the problem, nothing else.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  8. alah

    But the problem is, most evil doers or terrorists came from muslims background.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • billybilly

      Not only that, muslim countries are electing terrorist into political office. But they are not extremists I guess.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

      Thanks you !!

      April 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  9. marks320

    Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions- Blaise Pascal.
    With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.- Steven Weinberg.
    Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.- Voltaire
    The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that own is also.- Mark Twain.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  10. jfairweather

    Amen to the sentiments of this article. As for the negative comments here, they are based on ignorance. Why, for example, should a peaceful religious community apologize for something they have absolutely to do with? Many times and via a full range of media, leaders among the Muslim faith have made strong and sincere stands against violence, but people who know virtually nothing about Islam have no interest in hearing this.
    We are all members of one human family. When one of us is injured, we are all injured.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Distancing is not apologizing. It's safe, I think, to say that we have seen very little distancing of such violence by muslim leaders. Just look at the violence muslims do to themselves in the name of their religion for their religion because of their religion. If muslims were serious about distancing themselves from violence, there'd not be so many high-ranking leaders within the religion calling for it so often.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • billybilly

      Yes strong and sincere, that is why muslim nations when they get democracy elect terrorist groups into power, because they are moderates right.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  11. SeeBee

    These two punks where white. Infact they were from the Caucasian mountains making them pure whites. However, its the brown people of all religions who are attacked ? All Browns are not Muslims just as all Whites are not Christians !

    April 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • ZuniFish

      Really? The Caucasian mountains? haha ok...their race is not the issue – it's their radical beliefs and jihadist activism.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Enoch

      Are the Caucasian Mountains near the Big Rock Candy mountain?

      April 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  12. Get a life

    All religions are a curse to humanity but none greater than the 3 Abrahamic religions from the middle east. What kind of a power is god when he cannot prevent the birth of nonbelievers but begs his followers to kill them.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      April 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • ari

      the two largest mass murder events of the twentieth century were under mao and stalin, neither of whom was a religious man. religious people have been responsible for a lot of killing, sure, but actually atheists have been proportionally responsible for far more given their small number in the world's population. not that this means that all atheists are bad, just as not all religious people are bad.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Those were conducted because they both had beards, not because they were atheist regimes.

      Ever heard of something called sociopolitical strife? They weren't done in the name of atheism, they were done because those guys were evil nuts.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • jfairweather

      Ignorance is a huge problem, as evinced by this comment. Religion does not cause injustice. People who try to twist it into a pretzel in order to rationalize behavior that is in direct conflict with the teachings of their faith – they are the cause of injustice.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Enoch

      "Gives us something to do." – The Spanish Inquisition

      April 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  13. beatstockpromotersdotcom

    I hate religion. It causes issues no matter which way you look at it.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  14. His panic

    I beginning to think that they are in a state of Panic. Panic is similar to hysteria and have caused many stampedes, riots, brawls, wars and other undesirable situations through history. Faith in God and Christ Jesus the Son of God can set you free from Panic. You know that Muslim guy... what's his name? Ahmanidejab I'm his Panic! 😀

    April 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      My invisible pink unicorn is praying that you get a clue.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • His panic

      So evidently it is not only them who are in a state of Panic. Many, many others are panicking. So then that proves my point; Panic does indeed affect everyone who does not trust God and Christ Jesus the Son of God. Even animals Panic but those who Trust in the Lord Christ will not Panic.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • SCOTTA.

      his name is imadinnerjacket!

      April 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  15. J

    ^ We're in the 21st century?
    If you're talking about the 20th century then don't forget the killing of Jewish people by Hitler... – racial and a religious hatred, no?

    April 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • J

      That was meant to be in response to another comment below, not a general post

      April 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • VastConspirator

      The number of people systematically killed by organized religion is miniscule compared to the killing of godless governments. Those who talk about religious wars casually ignore all the atrocities in China, Cuba, Soviet Union, North Korea, North Vietnam, etc.

      These are the same people who walk around with Che Guevara on their shirts, proudly agreeing with this blood thirsty atheist who tortured people to death.

      And these godless commies have been killing people IN OUR LIFETIMES, not 700 years ago.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  16. Ernie Zippreplat

    All Muslims needs to be investigated!

    April 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • helicohunter

      *Sigh* Some people just can't see beyond black and white. They think that anyone who seems the same as them is good, and anyone different is evil.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Hey zipperhead,

      Most of the terrorist acts in the US are committed by xtians.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Enoch

      No, just Muslims are evil.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  17. ari

    i disagree.

    no, the people you mention do not define their community. but they were likely IMPACTED by the cultures of those communities. mcveigh was clearly impacted by the survivalist movement that he was fond of, and the sometimes violent anti-governmental thoughts that people in that movement espouse. hasan and these two losers were impacted by the obsession with retribution that runs through a large chunk of islamic society. we shouldn't say that these things had nothing to do with their crimes, because they DID. ignoring that is just as bad as generalizing it.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  18. billybilly

    Yea its not like any muslim nations elect terrorist groups to lead their nations, oh wait, they elected both the muslim brotherhood and hamas to power, but they are not extremists, they just put groups that espouse genocide into power, that is what reasonable people do right.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • sbp

      Yay! Crazy obsessed with Hindus guy makes his daily appearance. Still just as incoherent as ever.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      We did just about the same. We elected that idiot Bush who would like nothing more than to have set up a theocracy here in the US. He set our educational and scientific insti tutions back 20 years and bankrupted our country.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • billybilly

      @ honey badger

      That is a very poor comparison, these groups espouse the genocide of an entire peoples, who does that sound like to you?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Sounds a lot like what Christianity has done quite a bit of in the past. Crusades, inquisition, HitIer. We cant have that happen again. That's why we need to get rid of religion.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • wahoo1969

      Honey Badger... Hitler was not a Christian... The Nazi's had their own Pagan Neo-Norse like religion the SS founded. Do some homework.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Enoch

      Honey Badger – I hate to say this, but Bush didn't do that because he wanted a theocracy. I think he went to church just to make people feel better about him. I don't believe he was very religious. I think he did it because he was just kind of stupid and led by the nose by Cheney.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  19. Syd Chaden

    The commentary does not address the root cause of the Islamic terrorism that plagues the world today, which is the Islamic doctrine of death to infidels. Western leaders never mention the doctrine, and Islamic leaders avoid reference to it in their English language speeches. Muslims, however, take it very seriously. The two major branches of Islam, the Sunnis and the Shiites, regard each other as infidels, and they have been killing each other for centuries for that reason. That killing continues to this day, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Maili, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Syria, to name just a few of the affected countries. The killers are often suicide bombers, who shout "Allah Akbar" while engaging in what they consider to be a holy mission. And, they are celebrated as martyrs for their actions. There are increasingly frequent Fatwas issued, calling for death to Christians, death to Jews, death to infidels. If there is to be peace in the world, the Fatwas must stop, the Wahabbi schools must stop teaching the doctrine, and all Muslim countries must renounce the doctrine. Until that happens, talk of peace will remain just talk.

    April 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Yea, because christians would never do things like that. Even though the bible says that you are commanded to do just that:

      Death to Followers of Other Religions

      Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed. (Exodus 22:19 NAB)

      Kill Nonbelievers

      They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

      Kill False Prophets

      If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, "You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord." When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through. (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)

      April 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Buzz

      Thank you, Sir! Your assessment is the most logical and succinctly stated offering yet heard. Bravo!

      April 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • ari

      honey badger, christians do not follow the old testament. they believe that it was "fulfilled" by jesus and thus do not believe that it particularly applies anymore aside from the 10 commandments. that being said, not even jews follow that stuff anymore. it doesn't matter what is in the holy book, what matters is how people "apply" those lessons in reality.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      So then you don't have to follow the 10 commandments? If there is no OT then there is no original sin and therefore no reason to have had a sacrifice in the first place. Your argument is ill thought out and doesn't hold up.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • ari

      honey badger, read what i just wrote again. the 10 commandments are still considered part of christianity. and the old testament still "happened" in christianity, they just no longer believe that people in the modern era need to follow it. i don't know why you say "you" as if i'm a christian. you'd think the name would give enough indication that i'm jewish, but hey, since i'm not bashing christianity based on incorrect talking points from richard dawkins and r/atheism i MUST be an evangelical, right?

      April 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      So then if you don't need to follow the OT then the 10 commandments are moot. Isnt that right?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • wahoo1969

      Honey Badger (and the like minded)... The key difference is this... NO other religious group on Earth to include Satanists are killing en masse at such an alarming rate in RECENT years as have the fundamentalist Islamist's have. You can site every religious text on Earth which is fine, every verse, line by line, word for word.

      What really counts though, is those who really live by the sword, wield it and are blinded by it. Yes, fundamentalist Christians can speak ugly things, but speech is one thing... killing and physically destroying is a wholly and completely different and disturbingly different and insidious matter that cannot be ignored here.

      Just saying... Ignoring what is factual will not make it go away, not calling it what it is (terrorism) will not make it not happen. Until elements within Islam such as Fatwas and Wahhabism are destroyed outright, Islam and the world will never have peace.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • STFU

      If I may shed some light on Islam, Sunnis aka Saudi Wahhabi are the twisted version of original Islam, they actually murdered the grandson of Muhammad.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • ari

      ...honey badger. christians believe that everything in the old testament HAPPENED. they believe that moses spoke to god and received the commandments from him, they believe that the jews were promised israel, etc. they believe that the foundation of the jewish faith, which is the 10 commandments, is real and unchangeable. they merely believe that the laws that SPECIFICALLY AND SOLELY apply to jews–the stuff in the books of leviticus and deuteronomy, for example–do not apply to THEM, since in jesus they have "transcended" judaism and formed another religion. even in the time of the ancient israelites, the mitzvah (the 612 laws that all jews are supposed to follow) were NEVER supposed to be followed by members of other religions and the ancient jews NEVER made non-jews living under them follow those laws. i don't know why i'm explaining this to you since it'll go in one ear and out the other, but eh.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      xtianity has the ability to do just that. If we get rid of all of this silly religious talk then we can get rid of most of the conflicts on this planet and finally advance as a society.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • ari

      that worked so well for china and the USSR, honey badger. and cambodia. and the communist regimes of south america. truly eliminating religion eliminates all of man's problems.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • jfairweather

      Ignorance. Absolute ignorance.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • wahoo1969

      Oh, I agree Honey Badger... Organized religion since A.D. has really flipped the world on it's axis (and then some). That and politics!

      April 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Steven

      @Honey Badger Don't Care!

      When quoting the Bible it is important to know that there are only two non-Greek/Hebrew versions that are widely used and accepted in Western society.
      1. Latin/Catholicism
      2. King James/ all English speakers. The NAB is considered a translation of a translation and you will not find resting on a pulpit in America. Just FYI on this point.
      In addition, there is the Old Testament and the New Testament according to Christians. Animal sacrifice was expressly forbidden by Jesus of Nazareth (the Christ to Christians). So you are quoting Jewish law in the book of Exodus, chapter 22, not Christian law. The same thing with the book of Chronicles. The preachings of Jesus, according to Christians, are the "new" word and covenant of God. Jesus forbade killing "non-believers". Non-believers would be judged by God, not by man and sword.
      And the same thing with Zechariah–Old Testament versus "word of God in the flesh." I'm not saying I believe a word of what Christians offer, but if you're going to debate Christians it is important to understand how they read the Bible and what is and is not the final word of their god. Otherwise, they will use ignorance of their books as proof that you are a lost fool.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  20. bob saget

    islam is the only religion in the 20th century to kill on behalf of their religion. Don't compare islam/muslims to catholics/Christians. Yeah they may have done same thing hundreds of years ago but they evoled with time. islam is still stuck in the 1400s

    April 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      That is totally untrue. Xtians in many parts of the country are still committing atrocities in the name of your god. The only reason that you don't is the threat of prison.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Dave

      Yeah, Ok. I guess that's why doctor's clinics are bombed and doctors are murdered for carrying out abortions. Self proclaimed "Christians" are hypocrites to the extreme with all the hate.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • ari

      honey badger, i don't know if you know this, but america is not the only country where people are jailed for killing people. other countries also have prisons, yet it doesn't seem to work as an equal deterrent to religious-based murder in some places.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      So then you don't have to follow the 10 commandments? If there is no OT then there is no original sin and therefore no reason to have had a sac rifice. Your argument is ill thought out and doesn't hold up.

      April 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Wow, really? I had no idea. Yes I do. You're a fool to think that every society is the same and has the same rules. There are quite a few countries who are ruled by xtians who have no problem with kiIIing in the name of your religion.

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

      Maybe true if this were to read 21st century. Christians did a lot of religion-based killing in the 20th century: the Holocaust, the mass murder of Orthodox Serbs by Catholic Croats, priests among the perpetrators, during WW II, plus all the Troubles in Northern Ireland,

      April 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • ari

      what are these "few countries who are ruled by xtians who have no problem with kiIIing in the name of your religion"?

      and by "my religion" i assume you mean christianity, rather than my actual religion?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:00 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.