Sunday, February 15, 2015

15-Feb-15: In Denmark, they may be thinking hard about Charlie Hebdo this morning

Copenhagen overnight [Image Source]
The authorities in Denmark have declared their country to be on high alert. It's too soon for the rest of us, supplied with updates via online news sources and Twitter flashes, to actually know all the facts. But what's known seems to fit with what we knew till now about Europe's ever-sharpening hatred problems.

What we know:
  • There was a shooting attack around 3:40 pm Saturday afternoon on the Krudtt√łnden cafe in √ėsterbro, near the centre of Copenhagen. An event entitled "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression" was taking place inside. Several people, among them police who were guarding the place and the participants, were injured. One person was killed but no names have been published yet. Inside the cafe, the ambassador to Denmark of France, M Francois Zimeray whom we personally know as an outspoken advocate of human rights, was among the speakers in a forum organized by the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. Vilks has been the target of death threats for caricatures depicting Muhammad the prophet as an animal, and said yesterday "he believed he was the intended target of the attack. He was unhurt" [BBC] The threats to Vilks over the years have come not only from un-named individuals but from governments including those of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Jordan [The Guardian UK]. The shooter fled.
  • Soon afterwards, Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Denmark was on high alert.
  • Then Saturday night, a gunman opened fire on Copenhagen's Krystalgade street, about 5km (three miles) from the scene of the first attack. Reports say this was at the location of a synagogue, and that one person is dead from a shot to the head and several are injured. The shooter fled.
  • It appears [according to a report on Israel radio's 8 am news bulletin] the person shot dead outside the synagogue was a member of the Jewish community doing volunteer guard duty (as has become the practice throughout the world during these tense and dangerous days) while inside a bat mitzvah (coming of age) party was underway with dozens of guests attending. 
  • Are the police in Denmark securing Jewish communal events and premises? We don't know but we do recall that a month ago (according to this January 14, 2015 Associated Press report] "Denmark's Jewish community has asked for a police presence outside the Copenhagen synagogue during services and when students arrive and leave the city's Jewish school following the terror attacks in Paris."
  • In the night and early hours of this morning, the Danish capital was "abuzz with sirens and helicopters, amid fears that other attacks could be imminent. Police have warned residents that it is not safe to be in the city centre." [BBC].
  • At Copenhagen's Noerrebro train station, Danish police said they shot dead a man who opened fire on them [ABC News]. "The police are now investigating if the person could be behind the shootings at Krudttoenden and the synagogue in Krystalgade," according to a police statement.
Assuming the three shooting attacks share a connection and that the first two are not instances of random victims being assaulted for random reasons by random individuals, there may be some conclusions worth writing about.

Meanwhile, in the interests of throwing light on how events of such significance rarely occur in a vacuum, and while keeping our minds open, some comments we published here about Danish events in the past:

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