Following the terror attacks in Copenhagen, where a Jewish man was killed last weekend, a group of young Muslims in Norway are organizing a peace rally at an Oslo synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath this upcoming Saturday, February 21.
One of the rally organizers, Yousef Assidiq told Tazpit News Agency that it was important for him to let those who wish to harm Jews know that they will have to get by him first. “I want to say on Saturday that if anyone wants to attack Jews either verbally or physically, that they will have to go through me first. An attack on Jews is an attack on me and on all Muslims,” Assidiq told Tazpit.
According to the Facebook page for the event, the participants will be forming a human ring around the synagogue in order to protect the Jewish worshipers inside. “When Jews are afraid to wear the kippa, the Star of David, and are afraid to go to the synagogue, then it feels like an attack on me,” said Assidiq.
“I put myself in their shoes and think what this would be like for me – if I couldn’t safely wear my Muslim attire and was afraid of going to the mosque,” he explained. “It really hurts to know that Norwegian Jews are afraid. It’s not how our country should be – for anyone.”
Assidiq works as a project coordinator for an organization called Minotenk, the Minority Political Think Tank, which has been active in Norway since 2008. Founded by Abid Raja, a Pakistani-Norwegian lawyer and politician, the organization focuses on multicultural issues concerning minorities in Norway.
Minotenk, together with eight young Muslim adults, including Hajrah Arshad, Ali Chisti, Hassan Raja and others, took the initiative to create the peace ring event. As of Wednesday night, nearly 1,000 people are attending according to the event’s Facebook page.
“We really hope that this can start a peaceful movement against hatreds of all kinds and that we can arrange these Rings of Peace around everyone that needs support in society,” Assidiq told Tazpit.
The President of Norway’s Jewish community, Ervin Kohn, shared his concerns back in October 2014 about the level of anti-Semitism in Norway, citing that it was much worse than neighboring Denmark and Sweden. He also expressed his worry at the widespread use of the word Jew as an insult by schoolchildren in Norway.
In response to the human ring initiative, Kohn stated the Jewish community welcomed the initiative in an interview with Norway’s The Local news site.
Assidiq hopes that Saturday’s peace ring will change the current atmosphere for the Jewish population in Norway, which stands today at around 1,400. “We hope that this event will make easier for Jews to be public and proud of their religion without fearing any consequences,” he said.
“Out of little Norway, maybe this movement can spread across the world,” Assidiq concluded.