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Oslo Muslims form 'Peace Ring' to protect synagogue
Sunday February 22, 2015 9:32 PM, Agencies

Chanting "No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia," more than 1000 Norwegian Muslims flocked to Oslo's synagogue on Saturday, forming a human shield as a symbolic protection for the Jewish community.

Peace Ring

Called the "Peace Ring", the Muslim ring was formed around Oslo's synagogue following the Shabat celebration on February 21.

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 Muslim jihadists striking Jewish communities in France and Denmark.

Norway's Chief Rabbi Michael Melchior sang the traditional Jewish end of Sabbath song outside the synagogue before the large crowd holding hands.

Co-organiser Hassan Raja said it was the first time he heard the song.

Ervin Kohn, head of Oslo's Jewish community, called the gathering in sub-zero temperatures "unique."

One of the eight independent organisers of Saturday's event in Oslo, Hajrah Arshad said the gathering shows "that Islam is about love and unity", AFP reported.

"We want to demonstrate that Jews and Muslims do not hate each other," co-organiser Zeeshan Abdullah told the crowd, standing in a half-circle before the white synagogue. "We do not want individuals to define what Islam is for the rest of us."

"There are many more peace-mongers than warmongers," he added.

"There are many more peace mongers than warmongers," Abdullah said as organizers and Jewish community leaders stood side by side, accoding to Reuters.

"There's still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds."

Norway is home to a small Jewish minority, one of Europe's smallest, numbering around 1000.

The Muslim population, which has been growing steadily, is 150,000 to 200,000 out of Norway's 5.2 million population.

Debates over immigration in the country came to the forefront in 2011 when Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people and accused the government and the then-ruling Labour party of facilitating Muslim immigration and adulterating pure Norwegian blood.

Support for immigration has been rising steadily since those attacks, however, and an opinion poll late last year found that 77 percent of people thought immigrants made an important contribution to Norwegian society.

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