Flags were at half-mast throughout Denmark on Monday. Photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix
Flags were flying at half-mast across Denmark after the weekend shootings on a synagogue and a cultural centre that stunned one of the world’s most peaceful nations.
The suspected Danish gunman, who was shot dead by police Sunday, was identified as a 22-year-old of Palestinian origin with a history of violent crime.
Two men were charged on Monday with aiding the gunman, named by the media as Omar El-Hussein, in his lone rampage in the Danish capital that left two people dead and five policemen wounded.
France, which was rocked by Islamist attacks last month that killed 17 people including four Jews, appealed for national unity to combat “Islamo-facism”.
Danish intelligence said El-Hussein may have been inspired by the Paris attacks against a kosher supermarket and satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt pledged to protect Denmark’s small Jewish community and urged them not to answer an Israeli call for Jews to flee Europe for the Jewish state.
“The Jewish community have been in this country for centuries. They belong in Denmark, they are part of the Danish community and we wouldn’t be the same without the Jewish community in Denmark,” she told reporters.
She vowed that Denmark would not be intimidated by the weekend’s shootings, the deadliest such attack in the nation’s history.
“This is a conflict between the core values of our society and violent extremists,” she said. “I want to underline that this is not a conflict between Islam and the West. This is not a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims.”
The gunman was said by the media 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 charged with helping him get rid of his weapon and giving him somewhere to hide, the lawyer of one of the men, Michael Juul Eriksen, told AFP.
But he said the unnamed men denied the charges “completely”.