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.

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Wrists, knees, terrible rages – I felt overwhelmed when Barry came to see me

I teach my registrars to be aware how a consultation is making them feel: that can give valuable clues to the patient’s own emotional state.

To begin with, it seemed that Barry’s wrists were the problem. He told me about the pain he was experiencing, the pins and needles that came and went in his hands. I started to examine him. His palms were calloused, his fingers thick and stubby, veterans of the heavy work he’d undertaken throughout his 57 years. Even as I assessed this first problem, he mentioned his knees. I moved on to look at those. Then it was his back. I couldn’t get to grips with one thing before he veered to the next.

I teach my registrars to be aware how a consultation is making them feel: that can give valuable clues to the patient’s own emotional state. Barry was making me feel overwhelmed, the more so as I learned that he’d been experiencing all these problems for years.

“Why are you coming to see me about them now,” I asked, “rather than six months ago – or in six months’ time?”

“I need some time off, doc.”

There was something about the way he wouldn’t meet my gaze. And again, that feeling of being overwhelmed.

“What’s going on at work?” I asked him.

His tone hardened as he told me how he’d lost his temper a couple of days earlier. How one of the others had been winding him up, and something inside him had snapped, and he’d taken a swing at his workmate and landed a punch.

Barry had walked out and hadn’t been back. I tried to find out if he’d heard from his boss about the incident, if he knew what was likely to happen next.

He told me he didn’t care.

We talked some more. I learned that he’d been uncharacteristically short-tempered for months; his partner was fed up with being shouted at. Sleep had gone to pot, and Barry had taken to drinking heavily to knock himself out at night. He was smoking twice his usual amount. Men like Barry often don’t experience depression as classic low mood and tearfulness; they become filled with rage and turn in on themselves, repelling those closest to them in the process.

Depression is a complex condition, with roots that can frequently be traced right back to childhood experiences, but bouts are often precipitated by problems with relationships, work, money, or health. In Barry’s case, the main factor turned out to be his job. He’d been an HGV driver but at the start of the year his company had lost its operator’s licence. To keep the business afloat, his boss had diversified. Barry hated what he now had to do. He was now a “catcher”.

I didn’t know what that meant. Getting up at the crack of dawn, he told me, driving to some factory farm somewhere, entering huge sheds and spending hours catching chickens, thousands upon thousands of them, shoving them into crates, stashing the crates on a lorry, working under relentless pressure to get the sheds cleared and the birds off to the next stage of the food production chain.

“It’s a young man’s game,” he told me. “It’s crippling me, all that bending and catching.”

It wasn’t really his joints, though. Men like Barry can find it hard to talk about difficult emotion, but it was there in his eyes. I had a sudden understanding: Barry, capturing bird after panicking bird, stuffing them into the transport containers, the air full of alarmed clucking and dislodged feathers. Hour after hour of it. It was traumatising him, but he couldn’t admit anything so poncey.

“I just want to get back to driving.”

That would mean landing a new job, and he doubted he would be able to do so, not at his age. He couldn’t take just any old work, either: he had to earn a decent wage to keep up with a still sizeable mortgage.

We talked about how antidepressants might improve his symptoms, and made a plan to tackle the alcohol. I signed him off to give him some respite and a chance to look for new work – the one thing that was going to resolve his depression. But in the meantime, he felt as trapped as the chickens that he cornered, day after soul-destroying day.

Phil Whitaker’s novel “Sister Sebastian’s Library” will be published by Salt in September

This article first appeared in the 21 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The English Revolt