Saturday , July 13 2024

Danish PM ‘shaken but fine’ after street attack


COPENHAGEN: Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says she feels “saddened and shaken” but “fine” after being attacked in the street in Copenhagen.

Frederiksen is said to have experienced minor whiplash after a man walked up to her and struck her in Copenhagen’s old town on Friday evening.

A 39-year-old Polish man, who was arrested, appeared at the Court of Frederiksberg for a preliminary hearing on Saturday.

He was charged with violence against a person in public service, and denies guilt, local media reported.

The suspect was remanded in custody until 20 June, Copenhagen Police said on X.

Frederiksen’s office told media she had been taken to a hospital for a check-up after the incident.

Her official schedule for Saturday was cancelled.

In a message on Instagram posted at the weekend, she thanked people for the “many, many, many messages of support and encouragement”, she had received, which she called “incredibly moving”.

“I am saddened and shaken by the incident yesterday, but otherwise I am fine,” she wrote.

She added she now needed “peace and quiet” and to be with her family.

Frederiksen, 46, is leader of Denmark’s Social Democrats, the biggest party in Denmark’s coalition government.

She became prime minister in 2019 after taking over as leader of the centre-left party four years earlier. This made her the youngest prime minister in Danish history.

European leaders have denounced the incident, which came two days before Danes head to the polls in the European elections on Sunday.

EU chief Charles Michel said on X that he was “outraged”, while French President Emmanuel Macron called it “unacceptable” and wished the Danish PM a “speedy recovery”.

The assault took place in a square in the city’s old town when a man walked up to the politician and hit her.

The attacker was swiftly arrested, but there is no word yet on a motive.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called it a “despicable act, which goes against everything we believe in and fight for in Europe”.

The attack on another European leader comes less than a month after Slovak PM Robert Fico was shot several times as he greeted supporters. He survived and has since undergone surgery.

Two witnesses Marie Adrian and Anna Ravn described the Copenhagen assault to the local newspaper BT, saying; “A man came by in the opposite direction and gave her a hard shove on the shoulder, causing her to fall to the side.”

They said that while it was a “strong push” the prime minister did not hit the ground and that she sat down at a nearby café to recover.

Mette Frederiksen’s office said that the incident had left the politician “shocked” and that she was suffering “minor whiplash”.

The attack comes two days before Denmark votes in the EU election.

Frederiksen, leader of Denmark’s Social Democrats, had earlier taken part in a European election event with her party’s lead candidate Christel Schaldemose.

The Social Democrats are the biggest party in Denmark’s coalition government. They still lead the polls, but their support has fallen back considerably in recent months.

Danish Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke said on X; “Mette is naturally shocked by the attack. I must say that it shakes all of us who are close to her.” (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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