Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Thirteen hours that didn't change Denmark

Danes returned to normal on Monday (16 February) after a weekend of politically motivated terror attacks. But is Denmark still the same country the day after?

Prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt says Yes. She has told her people to continue to live as normal, while trying to understand what happened.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Similar to the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, freedom of expression was the top target in Copenhagen, followed by an attack on a Jewish community (Photo: Liberation)

“We must make our work as we usually do. We must move as usual. We must think and speak as we will. We are who we are”, she said when laying flowers in front of the Jewish synagogue in Krystalgade in Copenhagen - one of the crime scenes of the weekend’s terror.

Similar to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, freedom of expression was the first target in Copenhagen followed by an attack on a Jewish community.

But the casualties were much fewer in Copenhagen, first of all because secret service officers and policemen were already present at the two events due to a general high level of anti-terror alert in the country.

Somehow the attack was not a complete surprise.

Denmark has for a very long time been on high alert - for 10 years, since daily newspaper Jylland-Posten published the Mohamed cartoons in 2005. The cartoons caused a global firestorm of protests and an expensive commercial boycott leading to the removal of Danish goods from supermarket shelves in many Muslim countries.

But was the police prepared and protected well enough when terror actually struck Copenhagen on Saturday 15 February?

A few more personal safety vests would have been good, Copenhagen police union chairman Michael Bergmann Møller suggested afterwards.

During the weekend a record high number of police was called into action resulting in a shortages of vests and with some policemen forced to wear incorrect sized bulletproof protection while in action.

Danish police have received nothing but praise, from top politicians to ordinary people in the streets of Copenhagen.

”We are obviously shocked ... but we insist on having an open society, with the presence and dialogue, even if it challenges the community and the police”, said the chairman of the Danish police union, Claus Oxfeldt, after the shootings.

He will be one of the speakers at the main open-air memorial event in Copenhagen on Monday evening and is paying visits during Monday to his five wounded police colleagues.

Monday evening memorials

In several larger Danish cities there are memorial events planned for Monday evening, including in Horsholm north of Copenhagen, where the local basket ball club lost a star, 37-year old Dan Uzan.

Uzan was killed while acting as doorman at a family bat mitzvah celebration in the Jewish synagogue in Krystalgade in Copenhagen, with 80 guests, including many children.

”Dan had always room for everyone. If we should try to find comfort and a little sense of meaninglessness about Dan's passing, then it must be that he prevented an even greater catastrophe,” said the club’s board in a joint message. "He will be missed".

The other victim was 55-year old film instructor Finn Norgaard, who had attended the free speech debate at the cultural centre - Krudttonden - on Saturday afternoon.

The French ambassador to Denmark, Francois Zimeray had just introduced the discussion when the shootings began.

He told Danish TV DR that he thought he was going to die. He had tweeted from inside: "Still alive in the room" and then later "TAK to Danish policemen who saved my life".

The French minister of the interior passed visited Copenhagen shortly afterward, as did Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

In Paris, president Francois Hollande took time to visit the Danish embassy and show his respect, while French daily Liberation’s front page read on Sunday: "We are Danes" – a version of the "Je suis Charlie" slogan that appeared everywhere after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris on 7 January.

French inspiration

Most Danish politicians refrained from using the weekend’s tragic events to push any specific political agendas, such as advocating more surveillance or larger budgets for the police, or to influence the upcoming referendum on fully including Denmark into EU justice and police co-operation structures.

Perhaps the attack was foreign inspired by the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France, but otherwise little points to any larger organisation or international links behind the tragedy.

It appears rather to be a fatal example of failed integration and of social isolation.

The alleged attacker, who was killed on Sunday morning, has been identified as 22-year old Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein, born in Copenhagen to Palestinian parents. The Danish-Palestinian man was known to the police for gang-related crimes, but had not been abroad as a foreign fighter.

He was described by friends and teachers as a bright student and an up-and-coming athlete in Thai boxing, but also as an angry young man with convictions for violence.

Due to altered behaviour while in prison, the Danish Prison and Probation Service alerted the Danish Security and Intelligence services to the man in September.

He was then placed under observation, but not on 24-hour surveillance.

On Monday two persons were being questioned by the police in Copenhagen on suspicion of having helped the 22-year old by providing arms and shelter. But they were not charged with terrorist offences.

Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein had been released only a few weeks earlier and had no permanent address or place to stay when out of prison.

Europe shocked by Copenhagen terror attack

Similar to the Charlie Hebdo terror in Paris, freedom of expression was the first target in Copenhagen followed by an attack on a Jewish community.

'Je suis Charlie' solidarity protests continue

A day after a deadly attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, France is commemorating the victims, as police continue to hunt for the two gunmen.

Hungary to tax NGOs that 'help' migration

Ahead of elections in April, Hungary's government swings into campaign mode by proposing a new set of rules to stop illegal migration and NGOs that assist in it.

Bulgaria's corruption problem mars EU presidency start

A dispute between the government and the president over an anti-corruption law has put the spotlight on one of the Bulgaria's main problems - just as it is trying to showcase its economic and social progress.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap