Denmark remembers victims of Norway attacks

10:13, July 28, 2011      

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by Devapriyo Das

Danish leaders promised support and comfort to Norway in the aftermath of last week's vicious attacks at a solemn ceremony here Wednesday.

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II joined Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, politicians and hundreds of Danes to mourn victims of Friday's bomb blast and shooting massacre, at Vor Frue Kirke, the historic cathedral in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark.

"To the Norwegian people and government: you must know that Denmark stands with you in this hour," Rasmussen said at the service.

"We share your sorrow. We regard the attack as one against our own brothers and sisters, yes, even against ourselves," he added gravely.

The queen, who attended with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, was visibly moved, as were many in the audience, especially when a traditional Norwegian anti-war song was sung during the hour-long service.

Denmark and its northern neighbor Norway have long enjoyed close ties, and are both widely recognised as placid, open societies.

However, Norway's tranquillity was shattered Friday by a huge bomb blast in the center of its capital Oslo. Hours later, a gunman went on a shooting spree at a summer camp for the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labour Party on the small island of Utoeya some 40 kilometers west of the capital.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 32 year-old ethnic Norwegian right-wing extremist, has admitted responsibility for both attacks, which have claimed 76 lives, including one Danish citizen whose death was confirmed Wednesday. Breivik was arrested and is in custody of Norwegian police.

Rasmussen, who leads Denmark's Liberal-Conservative coalition government, recalled how his heart "froze to ice" when he first heard about the killings.

Calling the twin attacks "cowardly" and "senseless", he warned that "Those who do not want democracy will not succeed in their plan".

Outside, crowds thronged the street in front of the cathedral, laying flowers and burning candles at an impromptu memorial by the building's doors.

"This is so horrifying, it is a madman's work, and you can never exclude that things like that can happen again," said Villy Soevndal, Chairman of Denmark's opposition Socialist People's Party.

"But we should not be scared. We should live our lives. That is the most important answer to the threat from people like Breivik," he told Xinhua after the service.

Still, some political analysts here suggest there could be a growing threat of right-wing extremism in Denmark itself.

They fear the kind of disturbing values preached by Breivik, such as hatred for multiculturalism, immigrants and Muslims, are also shared by some Danes who vote for nationalist political parties.

"I do not accept the accusation that anyone should make a link between this maniac and the Danish People's Party [DPP] and the thoughts we have," said Peter Skaarup, Vice-Chairman of the influential, nationalist DPP which captured 13.9 percent of the vote at Denmark's last general election in 2007.

"We live in a democratic society where you can put forward your point of view... but I hope no one could want to use violence in obtaining their goals. That is terrorism and we are against it," he told Xinhua.

For his part, Soevndal could not say if right-wing extremism would rise in Denmark, but added "it is important that our police agencies keep a good eye on the right-wing extremists."

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