Norwegian Muslims organised a peace vigil in Oslo on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Jews a week after fatal shootings in Denmark targeted a synagogue and free-speech seminar.
As the mainly elderly Jewish congregation filed out of the synagogue after Shabbat prayers, a group of young Muslims, many of them teenage girls wearing headscarves, formed a symbolic ring outside the building to applause from a crowd of more than 1,000 people.
It’s good that many of them were girls, with or without hijab. It’s good to see girls and women out front.
…a traditional Shabbat ceremony was held in the open air with many demonstrators adding their voices to the Hebrew chants.
Norway’s chief rabbi, Michael Melchior, appeared visibly moved when he said it was the first time the ceremony had taken place outdoors with so many people.
Ervin Kohn, a Jewish community leader, said: “It is unique that Muslims stand to this degree against antisemitism and that fills us with hope … particularly as it’s a grassroots movement of young Muslims,” adding that the rest of the world should “look to Norway”.
Go young Muslims. Take over.
The initiative 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 jihadis against Jewish communities in France and Denmark.
Impetus for the vigil came from some young people among Norway’s Muslims, who make up roughly 3% of the nation’s 5.3 million population.
They wanted to demonstrate support for the country’s estimated 1,300 Jews, following one of the attacks in Copenhagen last weekend that killed a 37-year-old volunteer security guard outside the city’s synagogue.
In other words it was a demonstration, not a literal move to “protect” the synagogue. It was a symbolic gesture.