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Danish Parties Meet on Terror Measures as Crackdown Sought

Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 07:17 AM

Denmark's political parties are meeting Thursday to discuss potential measures after a shooting rampage over the weekend shocked the nation.

The government has said it will soon come up with a plan, which it already started looking at after last month's massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. This need to include more funding for the intelligence services and police, said Peter Skaarup, parliamentary leader for the Danish People's Party, an anti-immigration group that polls show may win 20 percent in this year's election.

"I really hope it's settled before the election," he said. "It should be agreed before that, it shouldn't be something we need to discuss, just something that should be handled by the government."

Denmark is slated to hold an election in September at the latest and political debate is now starting up again after the shooting rampage that left two people dead and five police officers wounded. The alleged gunman, Omar Abdel Hamid El- Hussein, a 22-year-old Dane of Palestinian descent who had expressed support for Islamic State, was killed in a shootout with police after an all night manhunt.

Denmark should have "zero tolerance" against radicalization at its mosques and prevent the growth of extremism in its prisons, Skaarup said. Danish Jews should also not be like "hunted animals," he said, demanding a crackdown on people coming back from fighting in Syria.

"It's crucial that we show examples there, so other people won't be motivated to go," he said.

One of the victims, Dan Uzan, who was working as a guard at a Copenhagen Synagogue when he was shot, was buried yesterday. Guests included Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

The opposition is calling on the government to look into how the police tracked the gunman after he was released from prison earlier this year. According to the Danish prison services, they had warned the Security and Intelligence Service, or PET, that the man had been radicalized during a prison stay.

The alert was confirmed by PET Tuesday, which said it had looked into the matter and had "no reason to believe that the now dead 22-year-old alleged perpetrator was planning an attack," according to a statement. Jens Madsen, head of PET, said on Sunday that the man had been on their "radar" and that he could have been "inspired" by the Charlie Hebdo killings.

With the election looming, the shootings could play a big role in the coming campaign. So far, political scientists say that it's too early to tell who it will benefit in the long run.

"We will see a short-term rally around the prime minister, which is what usually happens in a situation where there has been a large national crisis," said Kasper Moeller Hansen, a professor in political science at the University of Copenhagen. Still, that's likely to "quickly evaporate," he said.

The people's party had backing of 20.7 percent, up from 12.3 percent four years ago, according to a Berlingske average of polls as of Feb. 15. Polls suggest it will hold the balance of power with the government of Social Democrats and Social Liberals garnering support of 30.5 percent.

In a poll by Yougov released at the start of this month, 50 percent of Danes said there should be an upper limit on Muslims in Denmark, while 42 percent said that religion shouldn't be a criteria. Denmark accepted 72,000 legal immigrants last year, the highest since at least 1984.

After restrictive immigration polices over the past decade, largely pushed through by the Danish People's Party, Denmark has a smaller share of Muslims at 4.1 percent versus 5.8 percent for Europe as a whole.

"We need to keep and protect our freedom and rights here in Denmark," said Skaarup. "We need to be able to draw and say what we want, and there shouldn't be a but after that."

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Denmark's political parties are meeting Thursday to discuss potential measures after a shooting rampage over the weekend shocked the nation.
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2015-17-19
Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 07:17 AM
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