Photo Credit: Grzegorz Wysocki / Wikimedia Commons
The Oslo Synagogue, built in 1920. The congregation was established earlier, in 1892.

A 17-year-old Muslim teen has rallied hundreds of young Muslims in Oslo who say they plan to protect Jews as they pray on Sabbath in synagogue this Saturday. The group says they’ll form a “peace ring” around the Jewish house of worship in the Norwegian capital.

Hajrad Arshad told state broadcaster NRK she initially called for 30 volunteers. Instead, at least 630 have risen to the challenge. She and her six co-organizers are part of a Facebook discussion forum called URETT AVSLØRES, “Injustice Revealed.”

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The group intends to “extinguish the prejudices people have against Jews and against Muslims,” the young activist said. “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.”

Oslo Jewish community spokesperson Ervin Kohn welcomed the initiative, welcomed the initiative, pointing out the group was willing to defend the city’s Jews with their own bodies. “What they are showing is that if anyone wants to do anything against Jews in Norway, they ‘have to go through us first’ – and I think that’s very positive.”

Kohn said the synagogue agreed to the initiative as long as more than 30 young Muslims showed up – because otherwise, “it may seem counterproductive. “But if you fill Bergstien (the street on which the synagogue is located),” he added, “it will be very good.”

Arshad told Vårt Land the group had decided on the project both as “fellow human beings and Muslims in Norway, to show that Muslims distance themselves from the anti-Semitism which Jews encounter daily.”

In a statement on the group’s Facebook, they write that “Islam is to rise above hate and never sink at the same level as the haters. [We as] Muslims wish to show that we take deep exception to all forms of hatred of Jews and that we are there to support them. This is why we shall be forming a human ring around the synagogue.”

Contrary to the poison spewed from countless televised and live sermons by radical Islamist imams in mosques around the world daily, not all forms of Islam are malignant, nor do all Islamic scholars or clerics preach hatred.

Turkish Islamic scholar Adnan Oktar warned Muslims to protect Jews and their synagogues as far back as 2008.  “The world ‘Israel’ is the name of Prophet Ya’qub (Jacob), peace be upon him, who is praised in the Qu’ran and remembered with great respect by Muslims,” Oktar writes. “The Magen David (Star of David), a symbol associated with King David is a holy symbol for us too. According to Qu’ran 22:40, Muslims must protect synagogues because they are places of worship. So why should members of the two religions not live together in peace?”

Oktar also warns Jews must “act in accordance with the moral valued and character of the King Messiah as revealed in the Torah… Judaic sources describe how the King Messiah will be a just person who protects the weak, honest, loving and peaceful… and make the world a place where everyone lives together as brothers in peace and security.” His writings on Muslim co-existence with Jews and other topics are translated into Norwegian in a special section of his website.  For his advocacy, Oktar has been vilified by numerous radical Muslim extremists and more than a few skeptical Jews as well.

Another courageous Muslim who has spoken out to advocate for peaceful Islam is Jordanian Sheikh Yassin Al-Ajlouni, who ruled last year that Jews should have a place of prayer on the Temple Mount — the estimated site of the Holy of Holies of both the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem.

In a video statement posted online December 18, 2014, the sheikh bravely called on “the religious ruling authorities in Palestine and Jordan” to allow Jews to build a synagogue on the site – the third holiest site in Islam as well – in the spirit of Islamic religious tolerance.

“There should be a special place of worship for the Jews among the Israelis under Hashemite and Palestinian sovereignty, and in agreement with the Israeli regime,” he said. “This by no means entails the harming of the Al Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock. Park of the courtyard, where there are trees, will be allocated for the prayer of the Israelis,” he prophesied, calling on other scholars in Jordan and among Palestinian clerics to “clarify their religious position regarding the building of a place of worship dedicated for the Israeli Jews.”

He commented also that he knew he was likely to face severe criticism or punishment for the statement. The Temple Mount is administered under the Jordanian Islamic Waqf Authority with the cooperation of the State of Israel.

Sadly, the sheikh was the recipient of severe criticism from nearly all quarters, including those of the Jordanian Iftaa Department, which issued a fatwa against him, calling him “ignorant” and having “no legitimacy.”

Within days, the sheikh was forced to recant his statement, and posted a poem on Facebook in which he called on Jews to avert plans to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Mount (there are none, of course) and exhorting them to convert to Islam.

“I am retracting my call, in my previous video, to allocate a place of worship for the Jews [ on the Temple Mount] he said in a follow-up video on December 28, 2014. “The Israelis interpreted this call as if I were saying that they have a right to Bayt al-Maqdis (the Temple Mount). I would like to emphasize that Bayt al-Maqdis is pure Islamic land. No one is allowed to give it up, trivialize it or to pass sovereignty over it to any non-Muslim party.”

The sheikh was then arrested by Jordanian authorities shortly after the second video was posted, and a lawsuit was filed against him by the “General Mufti Department” attorney general.

Oktar has repeatedly said that the Qu’ran states there is “no compulsion” in Islam, and warns it is forbidden to try to coerce anyone to convert to the faith. Tragically, al-Ajloun himself was forced by his own government to declare that Islam will be “victorious over the Jews” and that there is “still time to convert.”

Sheikh and professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi, who is the secretary-general of the Italian Muslim Association, was born in Rome to a Syrian Arab woman and an Italian Muslim father. Palazzi, an imam, is another Muslim cleric who challenges the typical terrorist poison broadcast around the world about Islam.

“The Qur’an foretells that before the Day of Resurrection the children of Israel will come back to the Land of Israel from which they were exiled twice,” Palazzi told Alex Maist of Novosty Nideli. “As about the right to create a state, this is not specified either for the Jewish people or for any other people,” he said.

“The Qur’an does not specifically contain the notion of a ‘capital,'” Palazzi added, “but mentions that Jerusalem was the center of the kingdom of David and Solomon and the seat of the Temple which Solomon built with the help of human beings and invisible beings. If this is not exactly the concept of a capital, it is nevertheless very close to it,” Palazzi pointed out.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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