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February 15, 2015 1:31 am

Victim in Copenhagen Attack Was Jewish Community Member Guarding Synagogue During Bat-Mitzva

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avatar by Judith Bergman

The Great Synagogue in central Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: Wikipedia.

The civilian who was shot and killed earlier on Sunday in the terrorist attack on the Great Synagogue in central Copenhagen, Denmark, was a member of the Jewish community named Dan Uzan, who was guarding the synagogue at the time of the shooting, Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, head of the local Jewish community, told Danish television.

Uzan was described by members of the community as a brave young man, who was well liked and who had for years been serving it faithfully as a guard at community events.

Rosenberg Asmussen also said that around 80 people from the community were gathered inside the house of worship for a bat-mitzva celebration at the time of the attack.

“The Community is in shock, it is like the shootings in Paris,” Rosenberg Asmussen said, “we had contacted the police after the shooting at Café Krudttønden to have them present at the bat-mitzva, but unfortunately this happened anyway.”

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Rosenberg Asmussen said he was not present at the celebration and that he was afraid to think of what would have happened had the assailant been able to force his way into the community center.

It is yet unknown if the terrorist was in fact trying to force his way into the synagogue and if Uzan had stopped him. On Facebook, friends of Uzan appeared to agree that he had indeed prevented a massacre.

Uzan was shot in the head and two policemen were also shot in the arm and leg in the attack, according to reports. Officials say it is likely that the attack was connected to an earlier deadly assault on a cafe in the city.

Member of the Copenhagen City Council and former Chairman of the Jewish Community in Denmark, Finn Rudaizky, told The Algemeiner that he was “shocked, but not surprised” by the atrocity.

“We, as politicians, have to look inwards and ask ourselves, whether we have been taking the fundamentalist threat seriously enough? Have the authorities been taking the fundamentalist threat seriously enough? I encourage everyone in Denmark to stand side by side and my thoughts go to the wounded and the families of the killed,” he said. “I also think of when the Jewish Community contacted the authorities in September, 2014 about increased security for Jewish institutions, this was not received well. Only after the tragedy in Paris, did the Danish government show understanding for the need of the Jewish community to have increased protection.”

Rabbi Yitzi Loewenthal, the Chabad emissary in Copenhagen, told Israel Radio that Jews were now afraid to leave their homes.

Other members of the local Jewish community who spoke to The Algemeiner preferred to remain anonymous.

One young woman said that she was also “deeply shocked,” but not surprised by the attack.

“This is deeply shocking, but unfortunately not unexpected! It has been a matter of time only,” she said. “The peaceful little country that we used to know has been changed forever.”

A Jewish man said that, “As a Danish Jew, I am horrified by the incident this weekend in Copenhagen. An incident that clearly confirms that Jews in Copenhagen are not safe. I sincerely hope that the Danish authorities will catch the killers and at the same time supplement security, in order for Jews to be able to continue to reside, in once peaceful Denmark. I believe, if this will not happen, the small Danish Jewish community, will only have a little chance of surviving the storm.”

Danish police held a short press conference at 8AM Danish time, where they said they believed that a man they shot and killed close to the city’s Noerrebro train station, was the perpetrator of both attacks, and that there were still many loose ends that they would continue to investigate. A police spokesman said authorities believed that the terrorist had acted alone.

Officials said the earlier attack, which saw one man killed after some 40 shots were fired into the Krudttønden Cafe, was likely a terror attack.

The Cafe was hosting a debate on freedom of speech which was attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been threatened with death for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

Following the first attack, Denmark’s Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said, “We feel certain now that it’s a religiously motivated attack, and thereby it is a terrorist attack. We take this situation extremely seriously. We are in a high alarm all over the country, and our main priority at this stage is to catch the perpetrators and make sure that we find them as soon as possible.”

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