Nearly 1,000 Muslims in Norway have formed a human shield called the “Ring of Peace” outside the only active synagogue in the capital, Oslo, to demonstrate solidarity with Jews in the country.
The Saturday demonstration came following a series of recent attacks against Jewish citizens in Europe.
A group of Norwegian Muslims organized the event in a show of solidarity with the country’s Jewish community, forming what they described as a Peace Ring around the Jewish synagogue.
Jews are a tiny Norwegian minority with a population of only 1,500. There are only two Synagogues in Norway.
The Muslim demonstrators said they sought to reassure fellow Norwegian Jews of their support.
The event participants stated that Muslims and Jews in Europe are both victims of hate crimes and should be supporting each other.
Organizer of the Peace Ring demo, a 17-year-old college student named Hajra Arshad, said during an address to the event that it is the Islamic teachings of love and respect toward others that motivated her to arrange the demonstration.
This is while critics state that any action of solidarity with Jews can be mistaken by some as support for the Israeli regime. Arshad, however, insisted on the importance that people learn to distinguish Jews from Israelis.
“I think it’s really, really, really important that people can distance Israel from Jews because there are a lot of Jews that are not taking any sides of the politics in Israel,” said Arshad.
Norwegian Muslims and Jews often meet in several interfaith harmony events but this is being hailed as a unique event organized by Muslim youths not belonging to any particular denomination and organizations.
Europe’s Jewish population has been steadily declining over the past decades following World War II. While in 1960 their population was registered at nearly 3.2 million, by 2010 only 1.4 million had remained across the continent – nearly 0.2 percent of Europe’s population, according to the US-based Pew Research Center.