Norwegian Muslims to Form a ‘Peace Ring’ of Protection Around Oslo Synagogue

AP Photo/Michael Probst
AP Photo/Michael Probst

A group of young Muslims in Norway wants to answer the Copenhagen attack, in which jihadi Omar El-Hussein opened fire on a free-speech conference and a synagogue, by demonstrating against violence at a synagogue in Oslo.

The organizers describe the event, planned for this weekend after the Shabat celebration at the Bergstien Street synagogue, as a human “peace ring” of protection.

The local Jewish community expressed concerns that the good intentions of the demonstration might be undermined if turnout was low, but the organizers say that won’t be a problem, as they told the Times of Israel they had over 630 commitments to attend on Facebook:

One of the event organizers, 17-year-old Hajrad Arshad, explained that the intention was to make a clear statement that Muslims don’t support anti-Semitism.

“We think that after the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen, it is the perfect time for us Muslims to distance ourselves from the harassment of Jews that is happening,” Arshad told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK in an interview cited by The Local News website on Tuesday.

She noted that the group aimed to “extinguish the prejudices people have against Jews and against Muslims.”

The demonstration drew praise from the local Jewish community.

Ervin Kohn, a leader of Oslo’s Jewish community, said the synagogue had agreed to allow the event on the condition that at least 30 people turn up to help form a ring around the building, which is located on Bergstien Street in the Norwegian capital.

“I’ve said that it only comes to 30, it won’t be good, it may seem counter-productive,” he said. “But if you fill Bergstien, it will be very good.”

Arshad promoted the initiative as an event on Facebook, and by Wednesday morning over 630 people had indicated that they would attend.

“Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to,” the event page explains. “Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other.”

Another of the activists behind the drive wrote in an English-language comment on the event’s page that “if anyone wants to commit violence in the name of Islam you will have to go through us Muslims first.”

As of Thursday morning, 1,400 people had indicated they would attend on the Fredens Ring Facebook page.

As the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation has noted in previous reports, the Anti-Defamation League rated Norway “the most anti-Semitic country in Scandinavia, with more than one in seven people harboring anti-Jewish sentiments.” Islamists have threatened Norwegians with terrorist violence for participating in the multi-national coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

This event might be seen as provocative by those dark forces, or maybe they will regard it as a temporary gesture they can ignore until it has been forgotten.  It will be up to the Fredens Ring crew to ensure that it is not forgotten. Persistence is always the key to victory over a determined enemy.