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Prime Minister: Thank you all for coming to this short press briefing.
Today the flags are on half mast in Denmark. Saturday afternoon a peaceful democratic meeting was viciously attacked and very early Sunday morning the Jewish synagogue was similarly attacked. Denmark was hit by terrorism. Two innocent people have lost their lives and five police officers are injured. The pictures and accounts of these events will not easily be forgotten in Denmark. Our thoughts today of course are with the families and friends of the victims and with the wounded police officers. We have now experienced the fear that terrorism seeks to spread. But we have as a community also responded with determination and resolve. Sunday morning the presumed perpetrator lost his life in the shooting with the Danish police. I commend the courage and professionalism of the Danish police and other involved authorities. Their efforts were truly extraordinary.
The Danish democracy is strong. The Danish nation is strong and we will not accept any attempt to threaten or intimidate our liberties and our rights. The freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly are for the Danish people rights and values that we see as fundamental. They are irreversible.
And let me be clear. The attack on the Jewish minority in Denmark is an attack on all of Denmark. We are deeply disturbed by the tragedy that unfolded in front of the Jewish synagogue. Many Danes have passed the synagogue to show our grief and many have left flowers and candles to commemorate the horrible and shocking events. The Jewish community is an important part of Denmark. Yesterday I myself visited the synagogue and we will do everything we can to protect the Jewish community in Denmark.
We have known for a while that there are forces that wish to harm free and open society such as the Danish. They are opposed to democracy, they are opposed to our basic beliefs in equality of all humans and I want to underline that this is not a conflict between Islam and the West. This is not a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims. This is a conflict between the core values of our society and violent extremists. Collectively and united we will remain who we are. As one light in the dark we have once again seen and felt that we are not alone in this struggle. We have received so many expressions of warm sympathy and support from leaders around the world. And we have received thoughts and expressions of solidarity from people all over the world. And indeed this makes us feel that we are not alone. I want to let you know that we are genuinely moved and we are sincerely grateful for the support that we have received. And from my heart and from the hearts of the Danish people I want to say very simply, Thank You.
The coming days may be very difficult to get through. We need to fully understand the nature of this attack but we must also insist on living our lives as we are used to. We must go back to doing our business as normal. We must think and speak the way we want to. We are who we are. And I am confident that Denmark will get through this both more united and stronger than we were before. Thank you very much. Now it is time for your questions.
Journalist: Peter .... from Austrian Television
Madam Prime Minister how do you respond to Prime Minister Nethanahu’s claim or appeal that all Danish Jews should seek asylum and refuge in Israel?
Prime Minister:I spoke to Prime Minister Nethanahu yesterday and he was very clear to send his regards and warm thoughts to the whole Danish people and also of course to the Jewish community in Denmark. We did not speak about that but I want to make very clear that the Jewish community has been in this country for centuries, they belong in Denmark, they are a part of the Danish community and we would not be the same without the Jewish community in Denmark so everyone can do what they want but that is my message to the Jewish community and they know how I feel about that.
Journalist: Guy Henderson from CCTV
The head of the Danish prison services has claimed that in the last two and a half years 39 people have developed what he calls extremist views during their time in prison. Giving details that are emerging about the prime suspect in this case, how concerned are you about that?
Prime Minister: Well, we are concerned about young people turning into extremists, young people that are going to Syria or Iraq to be part of that conflict and we have put a lot of suggestions forward to try to prevent that. About the perpetrator himself I won’t go into details, we don’t have all the details yet but this is a young man of 22, he is a Danish citizen, born in Denmark. He was known by the police for several criminal acts, including severe violence and he was also known to be linked to a criminal gang in Copenhagen. But I also want to make very clear that we have no indication at this stage that he was part of a cell or that took him to where he was now. But we will of course in the coming time evaluate our fight against radicalization. We are already doing a lot and we have a very good schedule for doing a lot in this area but there will of course be a day after this where we will evaluate our ... what we are doing in this field. Yes.
Journalist: ...I have just heard from a Venstre politician that they think that the basic line of the election campaign will be what and how much more Denmark should ask of citizens who want to integrate here. How do you respond to that? Should you demand more, should Denmark demand and ask for more?
Prime Minister: To be honest with you I am not in election campaign mood today, we are focusing on gathering all the information that we can. We are grieving with the victims and their families so this is not the kind of discussions that I want to go into today. Yes.
Journalist: Justin Cramer with the Local ... I am wondering if we know anything about how the gunmen’s weapon made it into Denmark.
Prime Minister: I can’t give you any details about that at this stage, and I think it will be for the police to answer that when they have more information. Yes.
Journalist: ... Thank you Prime Minister I am from China Xinhua Agency. Many countries are facing terrorism, too, so how the Danish government co-operate with other countries to fight terrorism?
Prime Minister: The Danish authorities and the government has for a long time co-operated with other nations to combat terrorism domestically but also internationally. And we will of course continue to do that. There are a lot of things we can do at a European level and as some of you know we discussed that last week in Brussels at our meeting in Brussels and we will continue to co-operate in that area. .... But one example where we are co-operating very closely is of course our fight to combat ISIL. Denmark is involved in that and we will continue to do that and that involvement also underlines what I said in the beginning that this is not a conflict between Islam and the West. In our fight against ISIL we are fighting together also with countries from the region to combat ISIL and we will continue to do that. That is also part of our fight against terrorism
Journalist: ... There were claims yesterday within the Jewish community that after the Paris attacks last month they asked the Ministry of Justice to re-evaluate the security threat and it was an ongoing process that had not finished for over a month and the attacks came before that had already been completed. What are your comments on the fact that it took so long?
Prime Minister: It didn’t. The protection of the Jewish synagogue had been strengthened after the attacks in Paris and as part of standard procedure as soon as the attack happened on Saturday afternoon the Danish police immediately increased the protection of the synagogue. And I also want to underline that what we saw on Saturday and in the night between Saturday and Sunday clearly underline that we have the security in place. It is very clear when you go into the details of these two attacks that had we not had the security in place the situation could have ended up much worse than it did. I am deeply saddened by the loss of two civilians. One who wants to participate in an arrangement where you debate and the other one who was volunteering to protect his community. I am deeply saddened by this but it is also clear to me that if we had not had the protection at both places this could have turned into a much worse incident that actually happened – we were lucky. Yes.
Journalist: Thank you very much. My name is ... from Japanese paper.
What kind of ... political intentions would you say this perpetrator would have had? Do you think it was – I mean - what has the target do you think, based on the facts you have known so far?
Prime Minister: Well, we have very little details of how what this person was thinking and and what his motives were and hopefully the investigation will bring us closer to that in the near future but I think judging by what the perpetrator did we investigate this as a terror attack because he was attacking an open debating seminar and the Jewish synagogue so we consider this to be a terrorist attack.
Ok, thank you very much.