It was one of those stories the media wanted to believe so badly. It was a story we all, in the face of rising Antisemitism, largely due to Europe’s growing Arab population, wanted to believe. News outlets from around the world breathlessly reported on the 1,000 people joined hand in hand around a Norway synagogue chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia.” A post describing the evening’s events from the Muslim Public Affairs Council had more than 11,000 shares on Facebook.
What actually, happened, is far less heartwarming. Two stories have emerged about those who joined hand in hand and stole the world’s attention, and hearts. The Israeli paper Haaretz exposes the checkered past of one of the event’s organizers,
The organizers, many of them Muslims, had planned the initiative with the endorsement of the Jewish community to protest the slaying on Feb. 15 by an Islamist of a Jewish volunteer guard at the main synagogue of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Ervin Kohn, head of the Jewish community of Oslo, told JTA he thought the initiative was “extremely positive” and said it could change the dynamics of minority relations in Scandinavia.
But some members of his community said the event was tainted because of anti-Semitic statements that one of its eight organizers made in 2008, and because he said this week that he dislikes people who support Israel.
Ali Chishti confirmed on Saturday in an interview with Verdens Gang, a highbrow Norwegian newspaper, that he delivered on March 22, 2008, in Oslo a speech on the alleged involvement of Jews in planning the 9/11 Twin Towers bombings in New York. The speech’s title was: ”Therefore I Hate Jews and Gays,” the paper reported, though Chishti said he was not the one who came up with the title.
“There were several thousand Jews away from work in the World Trade Center, and why there were more Jews in Mumbai when Pakistani terrorists attacked than usual?” he said then, repeating the conspiracy theory that Jews knew in advance of the attack that killed thousands. “Jews are a small group, but everyone knows that they have a lot of power,” he said.
Chishti has since repudiated the previously unreported remarks, but it’s too late to undo the damage they’ve done to his image.
Were there really 1,000 Muslims joined hand in hand? Breitbart reports on the real number, which, according to eyewitnesses, was significantly lower,
According to a local eyewitness, only about 20 or so Muslims formed the “ring of peace” around the Oslo synagogue. In fact, pictures from multiple angles show that there wasn’t enough people to form a ring, so the locals instead formed a horizontal line in front of the synagogue.
A tale of one thousand Muslims joined together in Norway is thus a story about twenty individuals, one of whom used the event as cover for his well-documented Antisemitism. Don’t hold your breath for the media to revise its story, however.