Ring of peace
Muslims join hands to form a human shield as they stand outside a synagogue in OsloReuters

One of the organisers behind the "Ring of Peace" at a synagogue in Oslo has admitted he once held anti-Semitic views, including blaming Jews for the 9/11 terror attacks.

Around 1,300 Muslims held hands around the Norwegian capital's main synagogue as a show of solidarity in the wake of a rise of attacks against Jews across Europe.

However the event, which was seen as a symbol of hope across the world, has now been described as "tainted" because of the involvement of Norwegian Muslim Ali Chishti.

Chishti was one of a number of people from the Muslim community to organise the event, but has been known in the past to make anti-Semitic statements.

In 2009, he was booed off stage at Oslo's Litteraturhuset after giving a speech entitled Why I Hate Jews And Gays - although he insists he did not come up with the title.

Ali Chishti
Ali Chishti said he held the views until at least 2009Facebook

"There were several thousand Jews away from work in the World Trade Center, and why were there more Jews in Mumbai when Pakistani terrorists attacked than usual?" he said, alluding to conspiracy theories that the Jewish community knew about the 2001 attack in New York in advance.

"Jews are a small group, but everyone knows that they have a lot of power."

Chishti admitted he previously held these views, but assured he now considers them "embarrassing".

"I have reflected a fair amount about the state of things since then," he told Norway's VG newspaper. "I was very angry at that time. Since that meeting, I've had many discussions about Islam, and I've developed a more nuanced picture of everything."

However, he did not refute his previous public condemnations of Israel.

"I think it is important to distinguish between being critical of Israel and anti-Semitic," he said.

"Those who support an occupation which has been condemned in several UN resolutions, those I dislike," he admitted. "As a Muslim I should not hate people, but I can dislike what they stand for."

Eric Argaman, a pro-Israel activist and member of Norway's Jewish community, said Chishti's involvement in the Ring of Peace "stained" the event.

"[It] now feels more like a spin, on our backs, than a gesture of good will," he added.

The stunt was still seen positively by many including chief rabbi Michael Melchior, whose son Dan Uzan was recently killed in a shooting in Copenhagen.

He said: "You must say to the young Muslims in Norway that they have given me hope, they have given me a reason to continue living."