RELIGION

Muslim Group To Form Human Shield Around Oslo Synagogue

02/19/2015 12:56 pm ET

On Feb. 21, a week after a shooting outside a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, left two people dead and five injured, a Muslim group in Norway plans to take measures to help ensure the safety of Jewish worshipers in that country.

The group of Norwegian Muslims will form a human "peace ring" around a synagogue in Oslo, according to a Facebook page for the event.

"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," 17-year-old organizer Hajrad Arshad told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) in an interview cited by The Local Norway.

The Washington Post included a translation of the event's Facebook page:

Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human ring around the synagogue on Saturday 21 February. Encourage everyone to come!

Ervin Kohn, the leader of Oslo’s Jewish community, said he welcomed the group's initiative.

"What they are communicating is that if anyone wants to do anything against Jews in Norway, 'they have to go through us first,' and I think that is very positive," Kohn said, according to The Local.

Abdullah T. Antepli, chief representative of Muslim affairs at Duke University, said although he could not attend the event in person he would be supporting it "in spirit."

"These kinds of symbolic events are a good start, modest steps towards the right direction," Antepli told The Huffington Post in an email. "I pray many more substantial steps will take place to improve Jewish Muslim relations globally."

More than 1,500 people indicated on Facebook that they would attend the event as of Thursday morning.

In 2013, a group of at least 200 Pakistani Muslims formed a human chain outside the St Anthony’s Church in Lahore, in response to suicide attacks at a Peshawar church two weeks prior which had left more than 100 people dead. Mufti Mohammad Farooq quoted verses from the Quran preaching tolerance, while the church's Father Nasir Gulfam stood next to him. The crowd surrounding them held signs that read: "One Nation, One Blood."

"Well the terrorists showed us what they do on Sundays," the event's organizer, Mohammad Jibran Nasir, said according to The Express Tribune. "Here we are showing them what we do on Sundays. We unite."

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