Denmark PM Says Country 'Won't Be the Same' without Jewish Community

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt sought Monday to reassure Danish Jews after a deadly shooting at a synagogue in Copenhagen at the weekend.

She urged Jews not to emigrate despite a call from her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for European Jews to go to Israel following the twin attacks in the Danish capital.

She also vowed that Denmark would not be intimidated, saying there was a conflict between the core values of Danish society and "violent extremists" but not between Muslims and non-Muslims.

"The Jewish community have been in this country for centuries. They belong in Denmark, they are part of the Danish community and we wouldn't be the same without the Jewish community in Denmark," she told reporters.

Her comments came after the weekend attacks on a cultural center and a synagogue that left two people dead including a 37-year-old Jewish man as well as a 55-year-old film-maker attending a debate on Islam and freedom of the press.

"Everyone can do what they want but that is my message to the Jewish community and they know how I feel about that," she said.

She said Denmark would not bow to intimidation and that the right to assembly and freedom of speech was "irreversible."

"This is a conflict between the core values of our society and violent extremists. Collectively and united we will remain who we are," she said.

"I want to underline that this is not a conflict between Islam and the West. This is not a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims." 

She describe the synagogue shooting as an attack "on all of Denmark" and vowed that the country would do everything it could to protect its Jewish community. 

Netanyahu's message -- which echoed a similar call after the Paris attacks last month -- was politely rejected by a spokesman for Denmark's Jewish community. 

"We're very grateful for Netanyahu's concern but having said that, we are Danish -- we're Danish Jews but we're Danish -- and it won't be terror that makes us go to Israel," Jeppe Juhl told Agence France-Presse.

"So we understand his concern for our well-being, and we value his concern but we are Danish and we're staying in Denmark."

Around 8,000 Jews live in Denmark, most of them in Copenhagen, according to the Jewish Community of Denmark, out of a population of around 5.5 million.

"Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe," Netanyahu said on Sunday.

Danish investigators suspect that the Copenhagen gunman was inspired by the Paris attacks.

Source: Agence France Presse

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