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Question Of The Day

How Should Denmark Move Forward After the Copenhagen Shootings?

We talked to locals at the crime scenes about how this weekend will change Denmark.

All photos by Johannes Hultquist.

This weekend, Denmark held it's breath as the manhunt for the suspect of the two supposed terror attacks in Copenhagen drew to a climactic end. To get an idea of how folks were feeling, we took to the streets surrounding both crime scenes to speak with locals and hear what could follow and what it would mean for Denmark in these already rocky times.

Julie, 22, Communications Student

VICE: Did you suspect something like this was going to happen?
Julie: Well, on one hand no, I would never expect it to happen in Denmark, but on the other hand, after the Paris attacks we've all been on edge. We kind of knew something was going to happen eventually but it's scary anyway, whether you expect it or not.

The first shooting was targeted at a freedom of speech debate. What is your opinion on the Muhammad drawings and how do you think we should approach this subject moving forward?
Freedom of speech is very important here in Denmark and I think it's ok to be provocative. I don't think we should stop at all. It's the way we live and it's how our politics are here in Denmark and we can't give that up. However, I do think we need to consider when and how we do it because obviously there's much more to it now.


How do you think the environment in Denmark is going to change as far as racism goes?
I'm really afraid that the whole thing is just going to go completely off the wall. Right now everyone is throwing blame at Muslims, and Islam, and IS but I think we should stop for a second and consider that we don't know much about the guy who did this yet. On Facebook and on social media people are just being flat out racist. It's all "Islam is stupid and we're the good ones and now we have to dosomething!" But we need to just relax until we know the intentions behind it.

Erdem, 35, Entrepreneur

VICE: How do you think Denmark should move forward after the supposed terrorist attacks?
Erdem: We should definitely continue to fight for freedom of speech, but we should also ask why some people are radicalized and try to work on integration. We need to focus on understanding the reasons behind this instead of upping security everywhere and focusing on being defensive. This will make our society more tense and it won't solve the problem. I think a lot of people who came here for whatever reason have declined to fit in and now are seeking purpose. When they can't see a way of making a difference through the system then they look for other ways. It's really sad.

Do you feel that Denmark in general is open to other religions and cultures?
In theory it is, but in practice I think there is a lot of subtle barriers for accepting other cultures. Especially from the Middle East. I don't subscribe to any religion myself but I can see that even if I say I am from Turkey rather than from Istanbul specifically I get very different reactions. A lot of people have very general judgements and they put anyone who is presumably Muslim in the same bucket. I think there is a lack of awareness and willingness to understand.


Do you think it's right to expect a religion as a whole to condemn the acts of certain individuals who claim their faith?
Yeah sure, I mean… if you accept that it is done in the name of the religion and that religion gives some justification for these horrible acts then it's not about apologizing but more just speaking out that not all subscribers of this faith think that way. Then again, society doesn't put radical Scientologists and Christians in the same bracket so they shouldn't do it to Muslims. It's a tough question.

Thor, Student, 22

VICE: Are you shocked by what happened this weekend?
Thor: It didn't really move me much, to be honest. I wasn't in Copenhagen when it happened, so I didn't get that initial shock of being locked in a bar or something. Maybe if I had been here I'd feel more strongly about it. Things like that, shootings and such, have happened in Denmark before and it didn't become as big of a thing as this is becoming. I think there's been such a strong reaction to this because it is seen as an act of terror, especially after what happened in France.

How do you feel Danish publications should move forward as far as speaking about Islam and the Muhammed cartoons?
It's a hard question actually. In Denmark and amongst Danes it's fine to publish these sorts of things, but we have to realize that no publication is going to stay within Denmark nor is Denmark full of one type of person or one religion anymore. Everything is international and I don't think we should offend just to offend, especially when it's heard around the world.


In your opinion, has the fear of the Paris attacks and now the Copenhagen shootings caused an increase in racism amongst Danes?
Not in my opinion, actually. I don't know the religion of the shooter so to connect that to any kind of increase in racism right now is too early to say.


VICE: What is your opinion on the Muhammad drawings and how should Denmark move forward after these attacks?
Birgitte: My opinion is that free speech is very important but I believe that those cartoons, both the Danish and the Swedish ones, weren't necessary. Why should we provoke people? I don't think the drawings justified the attacks and the murder, but I think that we should use our freedom of speech in a different way. If someone wants to write about Muhammad or Islam and use drawings then I don't understand why they can't respect the religion and use some old Persian art or some of the many other religious drawings. We shouldn't provoke just because we can.

Will these events increase violent and racist attacks against immigrants in Denmark?
There's always crazy people who will generalize that all Muslims are fanatics and there will be some backlash against them, just like there will always be some animosity between Muslims and Jews in Nørrebro. Primitive people will always have a reason to attack something or someone for one reason or another. We all need to remember this isn't a war on a religion, at least from our side, it's a war on hooligans.