A man reportedly assaults Danish prime minister in central Copenhagen

AP , Saturday 8 Jun 2024

A man reportedly assaulted Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in central Copenhagen, local media said.

Denmark s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen
Denmark s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses participants of the 7th annual Copenhagen Democracy Summit at the Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen on May 14, 2024. AFP

 

Police confirmed “there has been an incident with the prime minister” on Friday and that a 39-year-old man was arrested. He is expected to face a custody hearing Saturday, police said.

Authorities didn't provide further details and it was not clear if Frederiksen was hurt.

The prime minister’s office told the Danish state broadcaster DR on Friday that Frederiksen was “shocked” by what happened.

Two eyewitnesses, Anna Ravn and Marie Adrian, told the daily BT that they saw a man walking toward Frederiksen and then “pushing her hard on the shoulder so she was shoved aside.” They stressed that the premier did not fall.

Another witness, Kasper Jørgensen, told the Ekstra Bladet tabloid that a well-dressed man, who seemed part of Frederiksen's protection unit, and a police officer took down the alleged assailant.

Søren Kjærgaard who was working at a local bar on Kultorvet Square where the incident happened told the BT that he saw Frederiksen after the incident and she had no visible injuries to her face but walked away quickly.

Politicians in the Scandinavian country and abroad condemned the reported assault.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that “an attack on a democratically elected leader is also an attack on our democracy,” while Charles Michel, president of the European Council, condemned on X what he called a “cowardly act of aggression.”

European Union parliamentary elections are currently underway in Denmark and the rest of the 27-nation bloc and will conclude on Sunday.

Frederiksen has been campaigning with the Social Democrats’ EU lead candidate, Christel Schaldemose. Media reports said the attack was not linked to a campaign event.

Violence against politicians has become a theme in the run-up to the EU elections. In May, a candidate from Germany's centre-left Social Democrats was beaten and seriously injured while campaigning for a seat in the European Parliament.

In Slovakia, the election campaign was overshadowed by an attempt to assassinate populist Prime Minister Robert Fico on May 15, sending shockwaves through the nation of 5.4 million and reverberating throughout Europe.

Assault on politicians in Denmark is rare.

On March 23, 2003, two activists threw red paint on then-Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen inside the parliament and were immediately arrested. Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller also suffered some splashes that day.

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