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

Photo: Getty
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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.