In the wake of a deadly shooting attack at a synagogue in Denmark last week, a group of Norwegian Muslims intends to hold an anti-violence demonstration at an Oslo synagogue this coming weekend by forming a “peace ring” around the building.
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.”
The unity demonstration comes after a shooting attack Saturday that saw Omar El-Hussein, a 22-year-old Dane of Palestinian extraction, shoot dead a filmmaker in Copenhagen before killing Dan Uzan, a Jewish man who volunteered as a guard at the city’s main synagogue.