Monday, June 17, 2024

Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen

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Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, has said she is still “not doing great” but will continue to work, in her first interview since she was assaulted in a Copenhagen square last week.

Frederiksen, 46, suffered minor whiplash in the attack last Friday, which is not thought to have been politically motivated. A 39-year-old Polish man was detained on suspicion of assault.

“I’m not doing great, and I’m not really myself yet,” Frederiksen told the Danish broadcaster DR in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.

Frederiksen gave no details of the attack, but said “it was very intimidating when someone crosses the last physical limit you have. There is some shock and surprise in that”.

She said it was “probably also an accumulation of many other things. Threats over a long period of time on social media have got worse, especially since the war in the Middle East. Shouting in public space. Maybe that was the final straw”.

“As a human being, it feels like an attack on me,” Frederiksen said in the 10-minute interview. “But I have no doubt that it was the prime minister that was hit. In this way, it also becomes a kind of attack on all of us.”

“No form of violence has any place in our society.”

She continued: “I would rather have a Denmark where the prime minister can bicycle to work without being worried. I am Mette at my core, but I am the country’s prime minister. Thus, an institution that you must not attack, like the police.”

Frederiksen said the tone had changed in politics recently.

A 39-year-old Polish man was arrested and will be held in custody until 20 June on preliminary charges of violence against a person in public service. In Denmark, preliminary charges are one step short of formal ones but allow authorities to keep criminal suspects in custody during an investigation.

In court, the suspect, who was not identified, reportedly praised Frederiksen as “a really good prime minister”, and investigators suspect he was under the influence of drugs and intoxicated at the time of the incident that happened just before 6pm on Friday.

Media reports said the man walked toward Frederiksen and pushed her hard while she was passing one of Copenhagen’s main squares. He hit her upper right arm with a clenched fist.

Frederiksen has not appeared in public since the attack and did not participate in public party events as the results of Sunday’s European parliament elections started coming in. Her party, the Social Democrats, faced a loss in the vote.

Frederiksen became the youngest ever Danish prime minister when she took office in 2019. She won re-election in legislative elections in 2022.

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