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Paris shows solidarity with Copenhagen

AFP · 15 Feb 2015, 09:04

Published: 15 Feb 2015 09:04 GMT+01:00

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Around 300 people gathered in front of the Danish embassy in Paris on Sunday to express solidarity with Denmark, a day after the capital Copenhagen had been rocked by a terrorist attack that left two dead.

The slogan "Je suis Charlie", which became the defiant rallying cry around the world in the aftermath of the shooting on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, was adapted to show support for the Danes.

"Je Suis Danois (I am Danish) and "Nous Sommes Danois" (We are all Danish) was the message from the protesters, who had been called to gather by various anti-Semitism groups.

"We are not scared. We denounce the ideology of these madmen and defend the values of freedom," said the head of SOS Racisme Dominique Sopo.

On Saturday Charlie Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux voiced dismay over the attack at a Copenhagen free speech event featuring Swedish artist Lars Vilks saying: "We are all Danish tonight."
He urged artists not to succumb to self-censorship out of fear, telling news agency AFP: "We must stand firm and not be afraid."
His comments came after two people were killed and five injured in twin shootings in the Danish capital, with one attack targeting a cultural centre hosting a debate on Islam and free speech.

A gunman sprayed bullets at the Krudttonden cultural centre Saturday as it hosted a seminar in which Lars Vilks - the Swedish artist whose controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoon sparked worldwide protests in 2007 - was among the speakers.

Hours later, a man was shot in the head and killed near Copenhagen's main synagogue in the city centre. Two policemen were also wounded in the shooting at around 1am on Sunday morning, police said.

A 55-year-old man was killed in the first attack, and three police officers wounded.

Swedish artist Vilks has been living under police protection after his controversial cartoons prompted death threats.

The shootings came just weeks after the terror attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which has also raised the ire of Islamist extremists by publishing cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed and periodically satirising Islam. 

There are rising fears of Islamist violence across Europe, after what was the worst attack in half a century on the streets of Paris last month.

Anti-terror sweeps carried since mid-January have resulted in the arrests of dozens of suspected jihadists and seizures of large stocks of weapons and explosives.

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire told AFP the Copenhagen attacks did not come as a huge surprise: "It's something that we feared after Charlie Hebdo."

"Ultra-radical groups are leading a war against freedom of expression, against the freedom to be irreverent about religion and against the simple freedom to debate them."

Danish Prime Minister Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt described the assault on the cultural centre as "a terrorist attack", while the United States branded it "deplorable".

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French President Francois Hollande contacted Thorning-Schmidt to express his country's "solidarity in this ordeal", according to a presidential statement.

Meanwhile, France's ambassador to Denmark Francois Zimeray, who was present at the debate but was not hurt, told AFP the shooting was an attempt to replicate the January 7th attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris which killed 12 people.

"They shot from the outside (and) had the same intention as Charlie Hebdo, only they didn't manage to get in," he said by telephone from the venue.

"Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, and the police here are saying 200," he said.

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