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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. Jim in Florida

    There will be no peace in the world until the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews...

    April 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bill39

      "ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION" is quite a poor advertisement for Islam. We do not need more Americans of this kind.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Dippy

      And the idiot can't even figure out how to remove the space in CONSTlTUTION.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  2. local

    Radical muslim clerics need to be silenced. If you know of one record his preaching's and send them in to the FBI. The muslim goal is to control and kill any person who does not share their beliefs. There is NOSUCH THING as a peaceful muslim.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • CLICK ON REPORT ABUSE FOR ISLAM FOUNDATION

      ..

      April 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Dippy

      Preachings, not preaching's.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  3. Camaro Guy

    Entertaining silence from NOW.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  4. Dennis

    While we are at it,let's not lump Christains together as infidels,either.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  5. Hughcity

    CNN ought to be the last outfit to tell people what not to do. They had Peter Bergen telling us this is a right wing group. And by the way, the U.S. has treated the Muslim community quite well since 9/11. Can anyone recall violence against Muslims since? In a country of over 300 million where anything happens, you can't. We know how to behave and protect ourselves at the same time hank you.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • G to the T

      I think you are making a false assumption that these actions are in response to US treatment of US muslims. Most of the exteme muslims that I'm aware of are angry at the US track record in their home countries. Just like religion has been used as a rallying cry on our end, muslims are being encouraged to right previous wrongs against them using violence. They do not have the resources we do, so they use terror tactics. Really, it's much the same as the IRA in Ireland using the Protestant/Catholic schism as a base argument in favor of what it, essentially, a political issue.

      Is reliigion being coopted for this end? I would say so, but keep in mind this issue has been going on for as long as we've known there was oil in the middle east... ever wonder if there might be a connection?

      April 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  6. South Texas Vet

    Gee, first world trade center bombing – muslim
    911 – muslim
    Plot to blow up LAX – muslim
    Fort hod killings – muslim
    Boston Marathon – muslim
    Wonder if there's a pattern here?

    April 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Tom

      Actually, before 9/11 there was that Egyptian pilot that deliberately plunged a TWA into the Atlantic... The media tried to downplay that one but it was clearly just another Muslim wacko...

      April 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Witch Hunt

      Don't the Muslim conquests from 622-750CE.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Jethro

      Ted Kaczinsky: white male
      Timothy McVeigh: white male
      Eric Rudolph: white male
      Wade Michael Page: white male

      ...since we're looking at patterns.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Witch Hunt

      I can't remember. Was Hitler White? I know it's been a few years.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  7. We're All Targets

    "It is not OK to target innocent people just because they are Muslim." Or because they are Christians, atheists, gay, straight, black, white, right, left, conservative, liberal, Asian, Jewish, Buddhists, pro-life, pro-choice, Catholic, Boy Scouts, German, redneck, Southern, and .. you get the point.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  8. His panic

    Christ and Christ alone is the one and only who did not do Evil. Therefore evildoers are anywhere and everywhere.

    Ro. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    Ro. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • 12 oz Raw Meat

      You are the enemy.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Jethro

      Jesus broke one of the Ten Commandments when he bore false witness on the cross. He refused to implicate the thieves who were being crucified.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  9. JACK

    I AGREE THAT LITTLE TIM WAS A TERRORIST AND NOT A MUSLIM BUT LETS LOOK AT THE MUSLIM RELIGON AS A WHOLE AND THE LAWS IT GOES BY, STONING, BEHEADING, CUTTING OFF OF LIMBS ALL FOR MINOR OFFENCES. I WOULD SAY THAT THE RELIGON HAS A LONG WAY TO GO BEFORE IT GETS OUT OF THE DARK AGES

    April 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      A look by the eyes of a son of a languor by faith, secular, self centered about truth of Islam and Muslims.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Witch Hunt

      Wake up gramps. CAP lock is on. I bet you drive miles with your turn signal on too.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Dippy

      Jack, turn off your fucking caps lock. It makes you look like a five-year-old. Are you?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  10. sandy

    why not, muslims have to lumped up with terrorism.
    Whereever there are more than 5% muslims, we have trouble.
    World over terrorism is because of muslims, so why not?

    April 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Rekenstrana's Homunculus

      Mental midgets unite.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      children of Evolution.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  11. Jai

    Isnt it odd that CNN made sure to use the term non-Arabic to define the 2 individuals rather than say that they were white ?
    As if whites are not capable of terrorism ..

    April 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  12. Sam Galt

    its actually pretty sad that humans still think they are the center of life, and that their false belief that they will live after death forms the basis for so much confused pettiness. Humans have no soul, there is no hell, no heaven, and no you do not get to party with dead rellies for trillions of years after your corpse is eaten by maggots 🙂

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

      @ sam galt: sounds like a pretty *self-centered* interpretation of existence you've got there, sam.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  13. 12 oz Raw Meat

    Consider why hate-filled groups like Muslims and Christians target you. Why do these miserable people hate you?

    April 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  14. CLICK ON REPORT ABUSE FOR ISLAM FOUNDATION

    Thank you !!

    April 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Witch Hunt

    The night is black
    Without a moon
    The air is thick and still
    The vigilantes gather on
    The lonely torch lit hill

    Features distorted in the flickering light
    The faces are twisted and grotesque
    Silent and stern in the sweltering night
    The mob moves like demons possessed
    Quiet in conscience, calm in their right
    Confident their ways are best

    The righteous rise
    With burning eyes
    Of hatred and ill-will
    Madmen fed on fear and lies
    To beat and burn and kill

    They say there are strangers who threaten us
    In our immigrants and infidels
    They say there is strangeness too dangerous
    In our theaters and bookstore shelves
    That those who know what's best for us
    Must rise and save us from ourselves

    Quick to judge
    Quick to anger
    Slow to understand
    Ignorance and prejudice
    And fear walk hand in hand...

    April 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • 12 oz Raw Meat

      Neil Peart has never mastered the traditional grip. That is why he had to go to the hall of fame with Donna Summer and Flavor Flav. Punishment from the percussion gods.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  16. billybilly

    Muslims get democracy and put genocidal manics into power like the muslim brotherhood and hamas and we are supposed to view them as moderates? Sorry, if they did not voluntarily elect genocidal maniacs into power perhaps I would have more sympathy for them.

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

      Agree with you

      April 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Jethro

      Americans are no different. We're just more insulated from the violence.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • billybilly

      @ Jethro

      We do no espouse genocide and we certainly do not seek it out.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  17. Bostontola

    A Muslim made the following comment: "to have peace, Islam among humanity by follwing truth absolute GOD". Non-Muslims read this and think, that is a ridiculous statement. Yet if a similar comment is made with their religion inserted instead of Islam, it immediately becomes true. Doesn't that raise a question for you?

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

      @ Bostontola: so you're version would be something like... "to have peace, get rid of all religion"?
      doesn't that bring the same set of questions?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Russ

      *your

      April 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bostontola

      No. My comment was intended to show that what sounds crazy when said by one group sounds reasonable when said by yours. It had nothing to do with the particular statement on peace. Regarding the statement on peace, I don't think peace will be brought by any religion or lack thereof.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bostontola: so you think the problem is innately human regardless? if you think religion is immaterial to the discussion, then what do you mean by your initial concluding question? after all, most of this blog do not consider atheism a religion.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • ltinny

      I agree.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Russ, My point is as I described in my response to you. Try this: I have a very smart Christian friend at work. We had a conversation with a Mormon about their beliefs. When the Mormon left, my friend said, wow, that's some crazy stuff. She could easily see how how crazy the Mormon belief was, but still thought hers was not just reasonable, but obviously true. Do you get the point now?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bostontola: I think I'm understanding your intent now. What was confusing is your use of the term 'religion.'

      Considering how frequently people on this blog ardently object to the notion that atheism is a religion, your initial remark (in that context) sounded less like an appeal for a measured & self-examining response to all beliefs and more like a shot at all organized religion. I'm now hearing you say the former... but that makes you an exception on this blog – and it would probably serve you better to state it differently.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  18. Sister Simplicity-Josef Handmaid of St. Joseph

    Thank you for your words, thank you for believing that no one blames an entire Faith for all the horror that happens. People of Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths simply want to live and raise their families, work, laugh, live in peace and be good neighbors, it is the few long with corrupt governments that spread hatred. Let us – as your friend said – walk in with anyone, anywhere, anytime. In the peace of The One Whose Name we cannot say, Christ and , Allah. thank you, many prayers, Sr. simplicity-Josef

    April 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Sam

      Thank you for having an open mind

      April 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • ltinny

      Thank you.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  19. Chief

    Things that causes mass murders:

    1.) Religion
    2.) Leftism

    Let's ban both so we can live in peace.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Chief: censorship has always been a popular tactic for tyrannical, mass murdering regimes.
      also... oversimplification in order to rationalize one's actions.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chief,
      What exactly is "Leftism"?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • sandy

      ISLAM should be banned in US, other wise it will become another IRAN. We will have organiszations like ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION still in US.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Dennis

      Yes,that Tomothy McVeigh fella was a real leftist,wasn't he?

      April 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Dennis: Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) certainly was a leftist.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Rekenstrana's Homunculus

      Sandy: "ISLAM should be banned in US, other wise it will become another IRAN. We will have organiszations like ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION still in US."

      Banning religions isn't what America is all about, sweety. And it won't solve the problem of terrorism.

      PS: Don't breed.

      April 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  20. Enoch

    I think the author is doing the Muslim thing wrong.

    April 20, 2013 at 2:18 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.