News World Copenhagen vigil for shooting victims

Copenhagen vigil for shooting victims

Flowers line the walls outside a synagogue where Dan Uzan was killed.
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Tens of thousands of Danes have gathered for a torchlit vigil in Copenhagen to commemorate the victims of two shootings that shocked the nation and heightened fears of a new surge in anti-Semitic violence.

Stunned citizens in what is usually one of the world’s most peaceful countries flocked to Monday’s rally in a square near the cultural centre where the first attack took place.

Many held flaming torches aloft, illuminating the chilly winter night.

Two men charged over Copenhagen terror
• Dead Danish terrorist ‘identified’ by media

A police spokesman estimated that some 30,000 people had turned out to pay tribute to the two victims.

The first, 55-year-old filmmaker Finn Norgaard, was killed when a gunman opened fire during a debate on free speech on Saturday.

The same attacker then targeted the city’s main synagogue, killing 37-year-old Dan Uzan.

“Tonight I want to tell all Danish Jews: you are not alone. An attack on the Jews of Denmark is an attack on Denmark, on all of us,” Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the crowd at the vigil.

Faced with the spectacle of European Jews being again targeted by extremists, just over a month after similar attacks in Paris, governments were scrambling to reassure their Jewish communities.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the site of one of the shootings. Photo: Getty

Thorning-Schmidt said Danes had come together to “insist on living free and safe lives in a democratic country.”

“When others try to scare us and tear us apart, our response is always a strong community,” she declared.

US President Barack Obama expressed solidarity with Denmark in a phone call with Thorning-Schmidt on Monday.

The two leaders “agreed on the need to work together to confront attacks on freedom of expression as well as against anti-Semitic violence,” the White House said.

Earlier, Thorning-Schmidt urged Jews to disregard Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for them to seek refuge in the Jewish state.

She said Denmark “wouldn’t be the same without the Jewish community”.

The 22-year-old gunman, a Dane of Palestinian origin named by media as Omar El-Hussein, was killed by police in a shootout on Sunday.

He was said to have been released from prison just two weeks ago after serving a term for aggravated assault – raising fears he may have become radicalised behind bars.

Two suspects were on Monday charged with helping the gunman dispose of his weapon and giving him somewhere to hide, the lawyer of one of the men said.
He said the unnamed men denied the charges “completely”.

After spraying bullets at the cultural centre during a debate on Saturday on Islam and free speech, killing the documentary film-maker, the attacker opened fire on Sunday on a synagogue, killing Uzan, who had been acting as a guard.

Five policemen were also wounded in the two incidents before the gunman was tracked down to a working-class district of Copenhagen.

The suspected target of the shooting at the cultural centre was a controversial Swedish cartoonist, Lars Vilks, who sparked fury in the Muslim world in 2007 by depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a dog.

Swedish police say he has gone into hiding.


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