Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt lays flowers outside the synagogue Krystalgade in Copenhagen. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty
Show Hide image

Copenhagen shootings: PM says an attack on Jewish community is “an attack on all of Denmark”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt condemned the “cynical act of terror” against Denmark.

Leaders across Europe have spoken out against terrorism after two attacks in Denmark. 

Film director Finn Nørgaard was killed by a gunman at a free speech event in Copenhagen hosted by controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has faced death threats over his caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

The gunman then shot dead 37-year-old Dan Uzan, a long-time member of Copenhagen synagogue, while he was on security duty outside the building during a Bat Mitzvah.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt condemned the “cynical act of terror” against Denmark, stating that the Danish people “will defend our democracy”:

As a nation we will not easily forget the past 24 hours. We have experienced the fear and uncertainty that terrorism seeks to spread. But we have also responded with determination and resolve. Early this morning the situation ended with the death of the presumed perpetrator. 

I commend the courage and professionalism of The Danish Police and other involved authorities. Their efforts have been truly extraordinary.

Denmark is an open, free and peaceful democracy. This will not change. We will defend our society and stand by its fundamental values.

To attack the Jewish minority in Denmark is an attack on all of Denmark. We are all deeply disturbed by the tragedy that unfolded in front of the Jewish Synagogue. The Jewish community is an important part of Denmark, and has our warm sympathy and strong support.

We have known for long that there are forces wishing to harm open and free societies like Denmark. This is not a struggle between Islam and the West, or between Muslims and non-Muslims. This is a struggle between the core values of our society and violent extremists.

Alongside Thorning-Schmidt’s statement, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark said:

It is important that we, in such a serious situation, stand together and uphold the values that Denmark is founded upon.

Speaking to the BBC, Denmark’s foreign minister Martin Lidegaard expressed similar sentiments:

We need to [...] signal that the best weapon we have against terror is to let it affect as little as possible. We need to stand together, not split our societies. We need to live our lives without fear. [...] We need to remember that they [the terrorists] are a very very little minority that should not be allowed to define how we should live our lives.

Meanwhile, following the desecration of over 300 Jewish graves in Sarre-Union, France, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has also spoken to the Jewish community in his country, calling the vandalism a “despicable act”. He also addressed comments from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Sunday urged European Jews to emigrate to Israel for their safety. Valls said “France is wounded with you and France does not want you to leave”:

France tells you again of its love, support and solidarity. That love is much stronger than the acts of hatred, even if such acts are repeated. I regret that Benjamin Netanyahu uttered those words. When you're in an election campaign it doesn't permit you just any statement. The place for French Jews is France.

François Hollande, the French president also attempted to reassure French Jews, adding, Jews have their place in Europe and in particular in France”.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

Qusai Al Shidi/Flickr
Show Hide image

I can’t follow Marie Kondo's advice – even an empty Wotsits packet “sparks joy” in me

I thought I’d give her loopy, OCD theories a go, but when I held up an empty Wotsits bag I was suffused with so many happy memories of the time we’d spent together that I couldn’t bear to throw it away.

I have been brooding lately on the Japanese tidying freak Marie Kondo. (I forgot her name so I typed “Japanese tidying freak” into Google, and it was a great help.) The “Japanese” bit is excusable in this context, and explains a bit, as I gather Japan is more on the case with the whole “being tidy” thing than Britain, but still.

Apart from telling us that we need to take an enormous amount of care, to the point where we perform origami when we fold our underpants, which is pretty much where she lost me, she advises us to throw away anything that does not, when you hold it, “spark joy”. Perhaps I have too much joy in my life. I thought I’d give her loopy, OCD theories a go, but when I held up an empty Wotsits bag I was suffused with so many happy memories of the time we’d spent together that I couldn’t bear to throw it away.

After a while I gave up on this because I was getting a bit too happy with all the memories, so then I thought to myself, about her: “This is someone who isn’t getting laid enough,” and then I decided that was a crude and ungallant thought, and besides, who am I to wag the finger? At least if she invites someone to her bedroom no one is going to run screaming from it, as they would if I invited anyone to my boudoir. (Etym: from the French “bouder”, to sulk. How very apt in my case.) Marie Kondo – should bizarre circumstance ever conspire to bring her to the threshold – would run screaming from the Hovel before she’d even alighted the stairs from the front door.

I contemplate my bedroom. As I write, the cleaning lady is in it. To say that I have to spend half an hour cleaning out empty Wotsits packets, and indeed wotnot, before I let her in there should give you some idea of how shameful it has got. And even then I have to pay her to do so.

A girlfriend who used to be referred to often in these pages, though I think the term should be a rather less flippant one than “girlfriend”, managed to get round my natural messiness problem by inventing a game called “keep or chuck”.

She even made up a theme song for it, to the tune from the old Spiderman TV show. She would show me some object, which was not really rubbish, but usually a book (it may not surprise you to learn that it is the piles of books that cause most of the clutter here), and say, “Keep or chuck?” in the manner of a high-speed game show host. At one point I vacillated and so she then pointed at herself and said, “Keep or chuck?” I got the message.

These days the chances of a woman getting into the bedroom are remote. For one thing, you can’t just walk down the street and whistle for one much as one would hail a cab, although my daughter is often baffled by my ability to attract females, and suspects I have some kind of “mind ray”. Well, if I ever did it’s on the blink now, and not only that – right now, I’m not even particularly bothered that it’s on the blink. Because, for another thing, I would frankly not care to inflict myself upon anyone else at the moment.

It was all a bit of a giggle eight years ago, when I was wheeled out of the family home and left to my own devices. Of course, when I say “a bit of a giggle”, I mean “terrifying and miserable”, but I had rather fewer miles on the clock than I do now, and a man can, I think, get away with a little bit more scampish behaviour, and entertain a few more illusions about the future and his own plausibility as a character, when he is squarely in his mid-forties than when he is approaching, at speed, his middle fifties.

Death has rather a lot to do with it, I suppose. I had not actually seen, or touched, a dead body until I saw, and touched, my own father’s a few weeks ago. That’s what turns an abstract into a concrete reality. You finally put that to one side and gird up your loins – and then bloody David Bowie snuffs it, and you find yourself watching the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus” over and over again, and reach the inescapable conclusion that death is not only incredibly unpleasant, it is also remorseless and very much nearer than you think.

And would you, dear reader, want to be involved with anyone who kept thinking along those lines? I mean, even if he learned how to fold his undercrackers into an upright cylinder, like a napkin at a fancy restaurant, before putting them in his drawer? When he doesn’t even have a drawer?

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war