Group of Norway Muslims Pledges To Protect Oslo’s Only Synagogue February 21, 2015

Group of Norway Muslims Pledges To Protect Oslo’s Only Synagogue

*** UPDATE, Saturday evening *** More than a thousand Muslims participated in the event.

“There are many more peace mongers than warmongers,” said one of the organizers, Zeeshan Abdullah. “There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds.”

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Today, a loose-knit group of Muslims in Norway is doing something pretty damn cool. Participants will be forming

a protective ring around Oslo’s synagogue following Sabbath services this weekend. The effort is a reaction to the shootings in Copenhagen, according to Hajrad Arshad, 17, one of the seven organizers of the “Fredens Ring” (Friendship Ring).

Actually, I believe freden means peace, but I could be wrong.

“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 NRK, Norway’s public service broadcaster.

About a thousand people have signed up on the group’s Facebook page, including well-wishers from around the world.

Oslo’s synagogue, with non-human protective barrier

The initiative comes one week after an Islamist gunman in neighboring Denmark, Omar El-Hussein, killed two victims, including a guard at a synagogue; and nine years after the only synagogue in Oslo (one of just two in all of Norway) was attacked by four gun-toting men. (No one was hurt.)

A spokesman for the Jewish Community in Oslo welcomed the Fredens Ring effort, but noted that its cooperation was contingent on there being at least 30 people in the ring. If too few people show up, he said, it may be “counterproductive.”

Norway’s dwindling Jewish community currently has fewer than a thousand members, while the country’s Muslims number roughly 200,000. According to Charles Paul Freund at Reason,

The “Fredens Ring” effort is … not only a gesture toward Oslo’s Jewish community, but perhaps also a message intended for some fellow Norwegian Muslims. “Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to,” it says on the Facebook page. …  “Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other.”

I hope the event will prove to be a watershed moment. The Fredens Ring Facebook page is here.

(Image by Grzegorz Wysocki via Wikipedia)


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