More than 1,000 people in Oslo, Norway joined hands on Saturday to form a protective, human chain around a synagogue there – an effort spearheaded by a group of Muslims to promote peace.
The purpose of the event was to also show support for all religions, especially in light of recent violence against Jews in Europe, including January’s attacks at a kosher grocery store in Paris and a separate attack in Denmark outside a synagogue last week.
Organizers said on a Facebook page detailing the event that “Islam is to protect our brothers and sisters, independently of what religion they belong to. Islam is to rise above hatred and never sink down on the same level as the haters. Islam is to protect each other.” The post added that, “Muslims want to show that we strongly condemn all type of anti-Semitism and hatred towards Jews. And that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human protective ring…”
According to Reuters, participants chanted at the event, “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamaphobia.”
Hajrad Arshad, an event organizer told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK that “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.”
The Jewish community in Oslo welcomed the initiative but initially said it wanted at least 30 people to show up otherwise the effort would look “counter-productive.” The hundreds upon hundreds of participants exceeded the community's expectations.