Gunman opens fire in Denmark
By Joe Zylka
Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide every year, and it usually brings a time of love, affection and big business for hotels. However, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the feeling around 2015’s Valentine’s Day was anything but love and affection.
Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was just 22-years-old when a SWAT team shot and killed him early in the morning of Feb. 15, but the damage had already been done by then. El-Hussein carried out two attacks before he died; the first resulted in the killing of one Danish citizen outside of a building hosting a free speech seminar.
El-Hussein then opened fire on the building with his M95 assault rifle, wounding three police officers in the process. The second attack issued by El-Hussein occurred nine hours later outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue, where he shot and killed a Jewish security guard and injured two more before his demise.
According to Danish authorities, El-Hussein may have targeted Lars Vilks in the attacks. Vilks, a Swedish artist and cartoonist, has published many drawings and caricatures mocking the Prophet Muhammad by drawing Muhammad’s head on dog bodies. He was in attendance during the free speech seminar and was whisked away by his personal security team when El-Hussein’s gunshots rang out. Vilks has gone into hiding since the attacks.
As a result of the shootings, Denmark is stepping up its counterterrorism efforts with a new $150 million plan, which will increase the country’s military intelligence.
“We want to strengthen our ability to gather and analyze (information) about terror planning abroad,” said Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt in a briefing.
“We want to ensure that the intelligence service is able to monitor Danes who travel abroad to take part in extremist activities.”
The attack has reignited the debate in Europe and Western nations about immigration policies, especially those who are emigrating from the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even suggested that European Jews immigrate to Israel for protection from prejudice and anti-Semitism (anti Jewish expressions), but European countries casted the idea aside.
“The people of the United States stand united with the people of Denmark and all others who defend the universal right of freedom of speech and stand against anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its forms,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement condemning the attack.
However, many Westerners, including Schoolcraft student Mason Mills, argue that the U.S. shouldn’t get fully involved militarily in fighting global jihad just yet.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for the U.S. to escalate its efforts in the Middle East despite the recent events in Europe,” said Mills. “The U.S. should remain peaceful, and only go in if things get really bad.”
About 500 people attended El-Hussein’s funeral, while many more attended the funerals of the victims in this savage killing.
Despite the fear and anxiety gripping the nation of Denmark, many peaceful demonstrations have sprung up across the nation and world to show unity. One such demonstration was in Norway, where over 1,000 young Muslims stood in front of a Jewish synagogue, chanting, “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” in an effort to show that extremists do not define Islam. One can hope that more of these demonstrations take place for peace to spread and for wounds to heal.