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. Tom

    The silence of the other Muslims is what I ear...

    April 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      That's an earful if I ever heard one!

      April 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  2. MJ

    There are other evil doers besides Muslims. Muslims make it a very frequent event though.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • SS

      Come on bloggers of ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION do you have anything good or peaceful to say about YOGA? Probably not because you are un-educated haters. Ghandi brought down the British without blowing up one innocent child

      April 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  3. jimmy

    When the muslim community as a whole denounces terrorism, THEN I will agree. Until THEN, they are complicent and just as guilty.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I agree. Christians and believers in all faiths based on the supernatural are also guilty. If you promote and reward ignorance, you are guilty too. There is a foundation.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

      Who cares about hinduism absurdity of a hindu, stupid.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • SS

      These wackos are really bent on the Hindus!!! Probably because Hindus are 99% PEACEFUL! YOGA NOT IED's!!! ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      April 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  4. Clarity

    Jesus is the answer. God is real. I believe in him and with God all things are possible.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • SS

      No offense but you must be a blonde... Things are a bit more complex than that my friend.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • SCOTTA.

      AMEN clarity. i can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me!

      April 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • UncleM

      Jesus is long dead, god imaginary, and the best bits of christianity – love thy neighbor – borrowed from other religions.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  5. Jeff

    Give me a break, more Muslim apologists – Everywhere there is turmoil on this planet you're likely to find Muslims causing the problems by absorbing weak minded violence prone peoples. When are we going to get through to America that Islam is a death cult religion and NOT the peaceful religion they claim. Hatred for women, gays, other religions and pretty much themselves.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

      Every hindu criminal complains the same, about law enforcement, Do not be a hindu criminal by hindu secular ism, filthy self center ism, if one does not like to pay for his hinduism illegality.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • SS

      Hear Hear! One more time... can anyone explain how the glass at explosion 1 was blown toward the alleged explosive device?

      April 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • SCOTTA.

      exactly right jeff. muslims= wolves in sheeps clothing.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

    This article is all about whining and that muslims shouldn't be targeted and that McVeigh and others did the same bla bla bla.

    Yet no word that McVeigh didn-t do it in the name of religion.

    And no word condemning these muslims who killed innocents.

    How come I am not surprised.

    Your typical muslim bigotry.

    NYU should fire that taqqia clown.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Nice article to try to deflect any criticism at Islam. He mentions McVeigh, Page & Lanza, 3 people who you can say a lot of nasty things about, but you cannot find that their actions had anything to do with their religious beliefs. He only mentions Hassan because the govt calls it workplace violence. He could have named countless individuals that have committed awful acts in the name of what, Islam! If we are not going question Islam then we might as well just blame the pressure cooker, the planes, the shoes or any other item that these followers of Islam use to commit Terrorist acts.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  8. Allen

    Islam=hate, intolerance, bigotry.

    I don't blame anyone who goes after those who practice that hateful cult.

    April 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

      hinduism absurdity of a hindu, absurd by faith.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Daughter of Shiva


      We Hindus will own you muslims forever!!

      Jay hind!

      April 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Logan

      Islam should be eradicated from the face of the Earth. It is Satan's religious arm. Nothing god comes from islam or being a muslim, only hate and intolerance.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

      As was the case, not long ago, being slaves of Muslims.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

      Mohammad, get real, my hindu bhung brother, low cast hindus were forced converted by desert forces aka barbarians from middle east, it is sad but true, you are hindu by blood.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  9. Charles Spencer King

    With all the great minds in the world, it is absolutely
    amazing no one seems to G E T one simple fact. The death penalty is a
    reward for ANY devout Muslim. Life imprisonment is a MUCH more severe
    penalty for a Muslim.

    This discussion is not about whether you personally are pro or con
    the death penalty, nor what crimes it should be an option with.
    Unfortunately the death penalty is not being used properly, it is
    being used to pander to the voting public by politicians, be they occupying
    legislative or judiciary positions. I happen to be a member of a family that was
    a victim of Islamic terrorism (9-11-2001), where my only brother (who
    was also my best friend), was murdered in the North tower of the World
    Trade Center. I also happen to be pro (for) the death penalty in many
    crimes. So despite my liberal democrat leanings (and writings). I am
    in no way advocating the elimination of the death penalty.

    The simple fact is there are many things worse than death. Let
    me give you an example: The punishment for ANY terrorist (religious or
    not) could be to eliminate their seed from the world. Such as not only
    executing them personally but their immediate family.Mother, father,
    sisters, brothers, children, nieces nephews and grand and great
    grandparents along with the wife. Certainly this would be a greater
    deterrent than just the death penalty....and it is more severe than
    the death penalty.

    Watching the pundits on national and world news for the latest
    act of terrorism (Boston Marathon). If the man lives (he's in the
    hospital and his brother is already dead) our government, and some
    under educated citizens will want the death penalty (even though it is
    not available in Massachusetts). The kid is a Muslim, why reward him
    with the death penalty ? This is not singularly an American error, it
    happens all over the world, and the powers that be wherever they are
    need to wake up to the fact that the death penalty is a reward for a
    Muslim. Noble India recently executed Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, one
    of the terrorists of the Mumbai attacks. I was surprised by this lack
    of enlightenment from a country with a history of defending its
    secular policies and insightful counter terrorism initiatives.

    Not wanting the death penalty in cases of terrorism where a
    Muslim is accused is not soft, quite the opposite. The sooner the
    world wakes up to this fact, they will then take a positive small step
    to deterring terrorism. If the world wants to begin to eliminate
    terrorism, there are always solutions that are more severe than the
    death penalty as I have showcased.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • lol??

      The gubmint GROWS Islam in the prisons.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • D

      I am very sorry for you loss.

      April 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  10. Griffco76

    Louis farrahan is a professional goat-whacker!

    April 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • A muslim man copulating with a goat or deer, British Library

      not just him, almost all muslims practice goat copulating, visit 200 year art work on british museum


      April 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  11. Chris

    I do not lump evil doers by their religious codes. We have a doctor in Philadelphia who is charged with eight counts of murder, but you do not see any candle light processions or news coverage there. You will not see President Obama there to offer hope. You will not see CNN with live coverage there at his trial. NO, because he worked for Planned Death or Parenthood if you wish. The darling organization of the media will not get a bad rap.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Sean

      You are freaking retarded.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Where do you get that he was employed by Planned Parenthood?
      What does it matter to your personal life if a woman has an abortion? How directly does it affect you?
      To set it straight, this Doctor as horrible as he is, did not commit an act of terrorism–he committed outright murder by killing living infants that has sustainable life chances (abortion is not murder unless that life can sustain itself outside the womb). There is no comparison between this doctor and the people responsible for the Boston Bombing.
      As for Planned Parenthood themselves, they not only fund abortion...they fund education and preventative care; they offer help for breast cancer screening and numerous other things. Now you may not care but it's thinking like yours that is the reason the USA has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world.
      What a person does with their body is not your business. Try focusing on your own life and stay out of peoples bedrooms.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Chris: considering the numbers alone, it's amazing how little coverage Kermit Gosnell is getting...

      Boston Bombings: 3 killed, 180 injured.
      Sandy Hook: 20 children killed
      Kermit Gosnell: 100s of children killed.

      CNN, why so little coverage of something so tragic?

      April 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  12. us_1776

    Is there ANY country that Muslims HAVEN'T blown up yet?

    Just wondering.


    April 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Sherri

      I have an Indian friend who told me after 9/11 "everywhere they go, violence and bloodshed follow" and I have been watching and studying this for 12 years now. Everywhere they go, this happens. They have brought it to the U.S. and other countries. This will happen more and more as more of them come here. They say they want freedom, when they come, but they hate Americans, and hate all non Muslims and feel totally justified blowing them up, or shooting (Ft Hood shooter), Even if they have been born and raised here, the common factor is always their religion. Always. When you hear of a terrorist attack, a suicide bombing, it will always be a Muslim that did it. I knew, on Monday, that is who had done this. I had not one ounce of doubt about it.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Katie

      Is there any country that Christians haven't infiltrated? They have been known to use bombs and guns, and they have been known for using disease, torture, poison, and oppression to bring about submission and conversion. They infiltrate governments to bring about legislation that favors their doctrine and they are not above lying or cheating and tactics designed to horrify and frighten in order to get people to believe and do what they want.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)


      April 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • SS

      Lichtenstein I think

      April 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  13. Priori

    Generalizations about terror are inappropriate. That said, it is valid to consider the fact that extremism in some religions means becoming missionaries, or volunteering to help in soup kitchens; and in other religions, it means blowing people apart. No judgement being made here... for as you see, I'm not attaching names of religions to these attributes. You can decide for yourself which religion's extremism fits which description.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  14. Rae

    There should not be a backlash against our American Muslims, but it would be gratifying to see Muslims speak up against these men and their beliefs.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • MohammedKills

      Of course there should be a backlash

      April 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Katie

      Muslims have always spoken out against extremists. It's just that a lot of people won't believe them.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • rose thomson

      This article was written by a Muslim cleric condemning these murderers–but instead of people saying, look, the muslims condemn these acts, you are all on here ranting about how only Muslims are haters and killers. You people here are adding to the hate among mankind. Where does hate lead?

      April 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • rose thomson

      They just did, didn't they? Isn't this article condemning the crimes?

      April 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  15. Joe

    Muslin leaders need to clean up their own house before telling me how to feel about another Muslim killing another American.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Joe

      Wanted to add ,Please tell the Muslims around the world..I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR MY GOVERNMENT!!! So quit blaming me for their lot in life

      April 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Moudo

      Muslims have nothing against governments, they hate you because your not Muslim. Anyone that is not Muslim is fair game. I wonder if Muslims were warned to stay away from the finish line.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  16. ed

    Do Jews hijack planes and crash them into buildings? NO
    Do Buddhist strap on bombs, walk into pizza parlors full of women and little children and blow them to bits? NO
    Do Christians attach bombs to school buses and kill 60 kids on their way to school? NO
    Do Catholics throw acid in the faces of girls try to get an education? NO
    Do Hindus place bombs next to an 8yo boy and his sister on a crowded street waiting to see dad? NO

    But MUSLIMS do these things, DON"T YOU ! ! !

    April 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Morgan

      You're using very specific examples but no school shooting has ever been committed by a Muslim. Most of the bombings on American soil were domestic white people (Boston, Oklahoma City, among others. If you looked a little harder you would find they commit no more violence than any other extreme end of a group. But looking harder would involve looking past your own prejudice and ignorance and you don't really want to do that do you?

      April 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • joe Mauro

      just lump muslims with all evil its a lot easier

      April 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Sherri

      Amen to that but many will not accept or believe it. But ONLY Muslims do these things. Who killed the athletes in the 1970 Olympics? Who bombed the USS Cole. Who committed 9/11. Who commit all the honor killings and all the suicide bombings. Who blew up the plane over Lockerbee Scotland. Who was the Ft Hood shooter? Who bombed the London and India subways? Who bombed the Indian hotels? Who did the Achilles Laurel killing? Who is committing all the violence in Darfur and Somalia? Who killed RFK? Who was the D.C. sniper? So, while not all Muslims are terrorists, virtually ALL terrorists are Muslim. I knew, on Monday, that the people who did the Boston bombing would be Muslim. I had no doubt in my mind who did it. It had all the hallmarks of a Muslim committed act. They need to start finding out WHY their young men see this as the only way to solve their problems. There is something in this religion that seems to encourage their men to do these things. I don't see Methodists, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Lutherans, Baptists, doing this.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Steve

      Good point.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Katie

      Have Muslims rounded up people for torture simply because the people were suspected of practicing another faith?
      Have Muslims encouraged their followers to die in mass suicide ventures to prove their loyalty to their leader?
      Have Muslims sent their holy leaders into other countries armed with smallpox-laden blankets in order to control native populations and to convert them to their religion so they can lay the ground work for a take-over?
      Have Muslims used fertilizer to bomb their own government's building, taking out a day care center filled with innocent children?
      Have Muslims bombed abortion clinics in this country?
      Did Muslims walked into elementary schools in this country and murdered 20 first graders?
      Have Muslims terrorized college campuses or high schools or movie theaters with assault weapons?

      No – Muslims haven't done any of these things. Christians have done most of them.

      April 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Texan

      KATIE I like your real name ZEENAT!

      April 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Dan the man

      Actually, Morgan and Katie, Muslims committed the worst school massacre in history. Remember the Beslan school massacre in Russia in 2004? over 300 killed by Muslims.

      April 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  17. Margaret

    Nicely said. It only takes 1 or a few with strong opinions who act on them to do a lot of damage. If they were affiliated with others eventually they will be found out. No matter what religion or even those unaffiliated with any religion do we cannot paint all with the same brush.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  18. Howard

    I remember Muslims cheering after 9/11. The fact children were murdered is icing on the cake to the Muslim community.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Sherri

      Yes, I saw footage of them celebrating in the streets about it. I also know of some personally who were doing it. And I bet that on Friday, at their mosques, they were quietly applauding these 2 terrorists. The Muslim community is pretty darn quiet when something like this happens. Come on Muslims! Take a stand against it. Tell your young men that it is wrong. Let them know that they will be considered murderers. Let them know that you don't approve of it and that you condemn it and them if they do it. Come on speak up. You're pretty vocal when you think you've been offended.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  19. truthmonger

    Ten Reasons Why Muhammad Was a False Prophet?--– 1.–No extraordinary natural signs before birth of Muhammad, or predictions from past religious characters about arrival of Muhammad to save the world. 2.–Islam did not exist at the time Muhammad was born. He was born to an idolater family and that’s what he followed all his childhood and teenage. That means, Muhammad, born as a Qafir (Infidel), spent 70% of his life as a proud infidel before he invented Islam. 3.–His first marriage was with a Jewish woman and not with any Muslimah. So, which religious rites were followed at his marriage ceremony with a Jewish woman if Islam wasn’t yet born? Certainly, a Jewish style marriage ceremony! Even the Quran doesn’t mention anything about the Islamic ceremony of Prophet Muhammad’s first marriage. That simply shows that even Muhammad didn’t have any idea of the existence of Islam or his prophecy. 4.–If Muhammad was an adorable prophet sent by Allah, then why didn't he reveal the truth about Islam, when he was a child or when he got young? Why did he waste 40 years of his life as a non-Muslim idolater? If his purpose of coming in this world was only to reveal Islam and preach it to people, then why he had to wait until more than half of his life, living like a common man and practicing idol-worship? 5.–Almost all the rituals and rules of Islam mentioned in the Quran are copied from Judaism, which shows how deeply Muhammad was inspired by Judaism and attracted towards the Torah. So, he found copying and pasting from the Torah into his Quran was the easiest way to invent a new religion. 6.–Muhammad spread Islam on the point of the sword and not with love and preaching. His strategy was to rule at any price. 7.–Muhammad killed poor, innocent and helpless people, which can’t be justified in any sense as act of a holy prophet. 8.–How to call Muhammad a holy prophet, when he $exually abused uncountable number of women, including sometimes ridiculously shamefully, like his marriage with minor Aisha and his own daughter-in-law Zainab. That proves that Muhammad was just another powerful dictator, who knew very well how to take advantage of his power and abuse everyone, anywhere and in any way. 9.–Muhammad never performed any miracle, which is expected of a prophet. Instead of helping the suffering people, he used to destroy well-settled, peaceful communities, capturing their lands and making the captured children and women slave. 10.–In his life, Muhammad did immense harm to humanity but that was not enough for his satanic mind. So, before dying, he left the messages of Jihad to his followers for conquering the whole world, all of humanity, in the name of Islam, which continues causing great sufferings to our lives to this day. Wouldn't a true prophet sacrifice his own life for his people, instead of destroying lives on every flimsy excuses? It shows that Muhammad was not a prophet – neither in life nor in death

    April 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • the basics

      I read all of this. fantastic.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Morgan

      You do know Christianity didn't exist before Christ right? So that argument was totally invalid. And Muhammad was a jew. Islam is an Abrahamic religion based of the same God from Christianity and Judaism. Pretty much all of what you say is based in ignorance. I'm a Christian and I feel that people like you disgrace us all with statements like this.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Katie

      Wow. Try reading and studying religion before you start spouting what you want to believe. Jesus was a Jew. Muhammed was a Jew. Muslims believe they are ONE religion of "people of the Book" and that ALL "people of the Book" are to be respected for having the same roots and worshipping the same one god. In case you don't know what that is – it's Judaism, from which both Christianity (Catholic, Orthodoxy, Protestantism and even Mormons) and Islam have evolved. Therefore MOST of the world are "people of the Book." Wait – this goes against your thinking, doesn't it? Well, too bad. Who are YOU to say it's wrong? Perhaps it's YOUR extremist view that is the corruption of your branch of the three major religions. The majority of Muslims are peaceful, very devout in their beliefs, amongst which is the treatment of all "people of the Book" with respect. Did you know that during WWII, when Hitler's Nazis were marching into Eastern Europe to round up the Jews that the Muslims were proudly competing with each other to see how many they could help and hide? You don't hear that about the Christians, now do you?

      April 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Texan

      KATIE your real name is Zeenat

      April 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  20. Pike

    Don't lump evildoers with Muslims

    If it fits the agenda Imam they'll do just that. Whether you are Christian, muslim, atheist , right/left, etc.

    April 20, 2013 at 3:35 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.