Feb 15, 2015 10:55 AM

Leaders decry Denmark attack as assault on freedom of speech

The Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) Public figures across Europe and beyond on Sunday condemned the attack by an unidentified gunman against a free speech event and a synagogue in Copenhagen that left three people dead, including the suspected perpetrator. Investigators in the Danish capital say the gunman could have been inspired by the terror attacks in Paris last month, in which three Islamic radicals killed 17 people at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, a kosher grocery store and elsewhere.

Here's a look at some of the reactions to the events in Copenhagen:

"Denmark has been hit by terror."

"As a nation we have experienced a few hours that we will never forget. We have tasted the nasty taste of fear and powerlessness that the terrorists want us to taste."

"We do not know the motive for the alleged perpetrator's actions, but we know that there are forces that want to hurt Denmark. They want to rebuke our freedom of speech." - Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.


French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Europe-1 radio he was struck by how closely the bloody sequence of events in Copenhagen tracked the Jan. 7-9 attacks in Paris.

"First, an attack against the symbol of freedom of expression. Next an attack against the Jews, and then the clash with police."


"Again, Jews were murdered on European soil just because they were Jews."

"This wave of attacks is expected to continue, as well as murderous anti-Semitic attacks. Jews deserve security in every country, but we say to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Israel is your home." - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


"The people of the Unites States stand united with the people of Denmark and all others who defend the universal right of freedom of speech and stand against anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its forms." - U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemns the shooting attacks, according to a statement from his spokesman.

The secretary-general reaffirms there is no justification for attacks against civilians and reiterates the need to stand strong for freedom of expression and tolerance. There is no space for anti-Semitism or any form of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination in today's world, the statement said.


"The shootings in Copenhagen are an appalling attack on free speech and religious freedom. Two innocent people have been murdered simply for their beliefs and my thoughts are with their loved ones and all those injured at this tragic time."

"Denmark and Britain are both successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracies and we must never allow those values to be damaged by acts of violence like this." - British Prime Minister David Cameron.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her "deepest sympathy for the family members of the victims in these difficult hours," spokesman Georg Streiter wrote in a statement.

Merkel confirmed that Germany is standing firmly on Denmark's side and assured Danish Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt that Germany would continue to closely cooperate in all measure regarding the fight against terrorism.


"These are unacceptable attacks on our open, free and democratic societies and on the Jewish community in Denmark."

"We stand together with our ally Denmark against terror." - NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.


"We will press forward with our new agreed priorities in the fight against terrorism."

"We will face this threat together." - EU President Donald Tusk.


"It is important that we stand together in such a serious situation and guard the values on which Denmark is founded." - Denmark's Queen Margrethe in a statement.


"I think it's horrible what's happening in the world in general, to just have shootings like that close to where you grew up. It's really scary and it's sad."

"You hear on the news about terrible things happening all the time, but when it's so close to you, so close to home, I think you really realize it's not great." - Danish tennis champion and former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.


"Denmark has suffered a despicable act of violence. Violence and terror shall not limit our lives." - Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.


"Together we shall stand up for freedom of expression. Nothing shall stop the free word." - Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.


Associated Press reporters Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Jari Tanner in Tallinn, Danica Kirka in London, John-Thor Dahlburg in Brussels, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Sandra Harwitt in Dubai, Cara Anna in New York and Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem contributed to this report.


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