Following the recent violence which has swept across Europe in the last few months at the hands of radical Islamists who want to kill innocent civilians, Norwegian Muslims organized a peace vigil in Oslo on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Jews.
The so-called “peace ring” formed a hand-to-hand circle around Oslo’s central synagogue with about 1,000 Muslims braving the cold in a rare show of support for Jews.
Thirty-seven-year-old Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the organizers, told the crowd. “This shows that there are many more peacemakers than war-makers. There is still hope for humanity, for peace and love across religious differences and background.”
At the same time, the chief rabbi of Norway looked visibly moved by the gesture, Norwegian Jewish community leader Ervin Kohn told AFP.
“It is unique that Muslims stand to this degree against anti-Semitism and that fills us with hope… particularly as it’s a grassroots movement of young Muslims,” Kohn said. “Working against fear alone is difficult and it is good that we are so many here together today.”
A heavy police presence was visible at the event, with sharpshooters placed on surrounding buildings as a security precaution.
Police superintendent Steiner Hausvik said, “It has been calm as we expected. We had no reason to expect any trouble but we were prepared.”
The peace circle, which was organized by Norway’s Muslim youth to link arms with Norwegian Jews in a circle around Oslo’s synagogue, was an effort to denounce recent violence by jihadists striking Jewish communities in France and Denmark.
Hibaq Farah, a young Muslim student of Somali origin, said, “We want to show our support to the Jews after what happened in Copenhagen. We stand with the Jewish people.”
It is hoped by many that other Muslims across Europe will take the same initiative and distance themselves from radical Islam, while simultaneously condemning the acts of violence carried out in its name.