News that over 1,000 Muslims formed a “peace circle” around an Oslo synagogue on Saturday has attracted both praise and scepticism.
Billed as an act of solidarity with Norway’s Jews after the Copenhagen attack, the initiative was celebrated on social media and by some Jewish leaders.
However, there have been claims that a vast majority of the crowd was made up of non-Muslims and that one of the organisers harbours antisemitic views.
A debate erupted on social media after someone who claimed to have attended the event said that there were only around 20 Muslims in the semi-circle and that the crowd of 1,300 consisted mainly of “ethnic Norwegians”.
Others have questioned the motivations of one of the organisers, Muhammed Ali Chishti, who gave a speech in 2009 titled, “Why I hate Jews and homosexuals”. However, speaking at the event on Saturday, Mr Chishti explained that he had come to reject antisemtism.
Mr Chishti delivered his speech wearing a keffiyeh and, before the event, he was asked by a reporter whether he disliked supporters of Israel. He replied: “Yes, I dislike those who support an occupier that has been condemned in several UN resolutions.”
Ervind Kohn, president of Oslo’s Jewish community, dismissed the critics, calling the event “a unique occasion where the Muslim community rose up against antisemitism… So what if the entire Muslim community wasn’t there?”
He added that there was no way of knowing how many Muslims were there. “How do you distinguish a Muslim from a non-Muslim? Should we have counted dark faces? That’s racist!”
Mr Kohn called Mr Chishti as a “fantastic role model”, saying: “In 2009, he was a self-declared antisemite. On Saturday, he stood on the podium and said he was wrong and that he was sorry… It’s better to take small steps than to take no steps at all.” Muslims are also planning to form “peace circles” around shuls in Stockholm and Malmö.
Assyrians living in Sweden are worried about relatives whom they say were kidnapped by IS when the terrorist group attacked 10 villages in Syria on Monday.
The exact number of people who were abducted in Syria is not known. In reports from human rights organisations and international media, the number varies from around 50 to around 200.
Many of the estimated 120,000 Assyrians living here in Sweden are directly affected, as several of the kidnapped Assyrians have relatives living here.
In Södertälje, south of Stockholm, the Assyrian Federation of Sweden is monitoring the situation closely. Radio Sweden spoke with the general director, Afram Yakoub, who criticises the Swedish government and international community for doing too little to help ensure the safety of minorities in Syria and Iraq.
After a Swedish genitals song became a global internet sensation, now the producers of the kids’ show behind it have created an animated video explaining human reproduction.
“All you need is for an egg and a sperm to meet,” a voiceover explains. “And they can meet with the help of a test tube or a jab. Or an adult willy and an adult twinkle can get together and make babies inside the body.”
The 1.43-minute long video also features a nude, animated couple and an animated “sperm race”, accompanied by a sports-commentator style voiceover and interspersed with black-and-white archive footage of swimmers and race horses.
“When sperm meets egg, you get a baby – the best prize anyone can receive,” the video explains.
Just like the genitals song – where the video featured dancing cartoon genitals – the reproduction video, titled That’s How Babies Are Made, will be shown on Swedish Television’s Bacillakuten, meaning the Germ Emergency. The show teaches three- to six-year-olds about the body, health and illnesses.
The new video will air on Sunday, but Swedish Television posted it on Facebook on Tuesday and it received mostly positive comments.
“Finally! We’ve been waiting for this!” one person wrote. Another enthusiast chimed in: “As a preschool teacher, mother and woman I’d say this could not be described in a simpler or nicer way.”