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February 15, 2015 1:13 am

After Copenhagen Synagogue Attack, Jewish Leaders Urge Authorities to Protect Local Community, Fight Islamist Extremism

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

Hours following a deadly shooting attack outside the Great Synagogue in central Copenhagen, Denmark, major Jewish leaders called on authorities to protect the local Jewish community, and for global efforts to fight Islamist extremists.

“We are confident the Danish government will take all necessary measures to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice, and we urge them to help secure the local Jewish community against anti-Semitic violence,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said.

“These attacks in Copenhagen follow the similar, brutal targeting of Jews and others in Paris and across Europe,” he added. “European governments should recognize that we are facing a vicious new wave of anti-Semitism and violence. It is crucial that Europe contends with this growing threat.”

The leaders of Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center said the attack should prompt world leaders to face up to the threat of Islamist extremism.

“The Copenhagen attacks follow the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher Islamist terrorist outrages in Paris,” said Founder and Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier and Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, “It is time for world leaders to acknowledge that this scourge has a name: Islamist Terrorism. It is time for the civilized world led by the US to tackle the scourge of Islamist fundamentalism that threatens peace- loving people of all faiths, as our freedoms of expression and worship are under assault the world over.”

President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, said, “This horrific terror attack is both sickening and a sign of the worsening extremism spreading across Europe.”

“The Jewish community in Denmark is a microcosm of what is happening to Jewish communities across the continent,” he added. “On the one hand they are under attack from extremist Muslims who see every Jew as a legitimate target, on the other hand, freedom of religion is curtailed by the government, religious slaughter has been forbidden and the parliament is in discussions about the future of religious circumcision.

“I truly hope that this latest attack will lead the people of Denmark to rally behind the Jewish community just as they did in 1943, securing the future of the community.”

One civilian was shot in the head and two policemen were 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.

Officials said the earlier attack, which saw one man killed after some 40 shots were fired into the Krudttoenden 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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