Photo story: Norway's Ring of Peace

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Norway’s ring of peace

In Norway, Jews and Muslims stand up against hate speech, writes Ryan Rodrick Beiler.

After the violence against Jewish people across Europe, young Muslims in Norway decided to do something in public.

With their community they made a ‘Ring of Peace’ around the main synagogue in Oslo to show they stand together against extremism. ‘The Jewish groups are facing difficulties, as we have seen in Paris and Copenhagen,’ said Hassan Raja, one of the organizers. ‘The “Ring of Peace” shows we stand with them – we will not let anyone stop us being a multicultural and multi-religious society.’

There were about 1,300 supporters in the street outside the only working synagogue in Oslo. This is about the same number as the Jewish population of Norway. They are a very small group because anti-Semitism in the past did not allow Jewish people into Norway until the mid-1800s. Then many were taken away in the Nazi occupation.

People from the Jewish community at the ‘Ring of Peace’ said thank you for the support. Michael Gritzman of the Jewish Community in Oslo said ‘I hope this will happen in other countries too.’

One week later, many Norwegians stood in front of an Oslo mosque in another ring of solidarity. This time they protested against hatred of Islam.

The organisers called this the ‘Solidarity Ring’. They want to fight against negative impressions of Muslims because of news reports of the recent violence in France and Denmark. Because of this violence, and because many refugees and asylum seekers are moving to Norway and other northern European countries, there are more anti-immigrant, and especially anti-Muslim, feelings.

‘Last week it was the Muslim youth who started the ring. It was beautiful,’ said Mehtab Afsar, secretary general of the Islamic Council of Norway. ‘This Saturday, non-Muslims made a ring in front of a mosque, to show that we do not want hate and violence against Muslims.’

‘When a Christian does something bad they don’t talk about their religion,’ said organizer Gitte Myhre. ‘It’s the person that does something bad – not the religion.’

‘It’s important to focus on the new illness in Europe - hate against Muslims and minorities – the Jewish minority as well,’ said Afsar. ‘We stand together against all forms of hate, violence, terrorism and extremism – they have no place in our society.’


Ryan Rodrick Beiler

Flowers at the Oslo Synagogue to remember Dan Uzan (shot and killed when guarding a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, February 21, 2015).


Ryan Rodrick Beiler

Young Muslim women hand-in-hand with more than 1,000 Norwegians of all religions, in front of the Oslo Synagogue, at the ‘Ring of Peace’, February 21, 2015. Muslim young people organized this to support Norway’s Jewish community after the anti-Jewish attacks in Denmark and other parts of Europe.


Ryan Rodrick Beiler

A young Muslim embraces someone from the Oslo Jewish community after the ‘Ring of Peace’, February 21, 2015.


Ryan Rodrick Beiler

Hundreds of Norwegians - of all religions – hold hands in the ‘Solidarity Ring for Muslims’, in front of a mosque Oslo.


Ryan Rodrick Beiler

A woman wearing a Palestinian flag holds hands with others in the ‘Solidarity Ring for Muslims’ at an Oslo mosque.


Ryan Rodrick Beiler

Mehtab Afsar, secretary general of the Islamic Council of Norway talking to Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, at the ‘Solidarity Ring for Muslims’. The week before, Muslim youth organized a ‘Ring of Peace’ at Kohn’s synagogue in Oslo.


Ryan Rodrick Beiler

The Muslim community listen to a local priest at the ‘Solidarity Ring for Muslims’.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler is a freelance photojournalist and a member of the Activestills collective.

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