Danes Bid Farewell to First Shooting Victim

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Several hundred mourners Tuesday attended the funeral of the first victim of the Copenhagen shootings as reports said the filmmaker died trying to stop his killer from spraying a cultural center with bullets.

At least 40 heavily armed police officers guarded the church in the northwest of the city as Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt joined the mourners to bid farewell to Finn Noergaard.

Danish police said 750 people attended the ceremony.

“The last thing Finn would have wanted in this life was for an incident like this to... push people further away from each other," the victim's friend and family spokesman Jesper Lynghus told AFP.

Friends of Noergaard's paid tribute to the 55-year-old during an hour-long ceremony before tearful mourners emerged from the church carrying a white coffin covered in flowers.

Hundreds of participants -- among them representatives from Denmark's Muslim and Jewish communities -- then poured out of the church and stood gathered around the hearse before a procession followed the vehicle down a cordoned-off street.

"I think they have honored him in a very special manner," said Zubair Butt Hussain, a Muslim activist and former spokesman for the Muslim Council.

Noergaard was shot dead outside a cultural center on February 14 during a seminar on free speech and Islam in the first of two attacks by a gunman who also killed a Jewish man outside a synagogue.

The Jyllands-Posten newspaper reported witness accounts that Noergaard had tried to intervene as the gunman -- named by police as Omar El-Hussein, a Dane of Palestinian origin -- fired off dozens of bullets at the cultural center.

"We do not know what Finn was thinking in that situation, but we are sure that it was not his own security but that of others he was concerned about," Noergaard's two sisters wrote in a letter published in several Danish newspapers.

Known primarily for his documentaries, Noergaard had a special interest in the problems of integration. One of his best known works was a 2004 film about a young Australian boomerang thrower.

"Finn was a human who took action when help was needed or in dangerous situations," the sisters wrote.

Meanwhile, questions mounted Tuesday over whether Danish police had done enough to prevent the February 14 attack in which Noergaard lost his life.

Unnamed employees of the cultural center on Tuesday told the daily Politiken that Danish police had sat with their backs to the entrance drinking coffee before the venue's staff alarmed them to the shooter outside, who police say fired 28 bullets with an assault rifle.

Swedish Mohammed cartoonist Lars Vilks -- who fled into the kitchen as his permanent security detail reacted to the attack -- told AFP last week that he thought Danish police had underestimated the threat levels against the seminar following the January Paris attacks, in which jihadist gunmen killed 17 people.

The twin shootings have raised fears of heightened tension between religious communities in the Nordic countries, several of which have responded by rallying for solidarity.

Around 30,000 people turned out for a peace vigil in Copenhagen two days after Noergaard was killed, while a Danish Muslim group has planned another vigil in the heart of the capital on Friday.

Hussain said it was "tough" being a Muslim in Denmark after the attacks but praised the way in which Noergaard's family went about organizing his funeral.

"I think it’s something special that the family invites different people from society to show that one way or the other we stand together after this incident," he said.

Norwegian Muslims formed a "peace ring" around the Oslo synagogue Saturday and a similar action is scheduled for Friday at the Stockholm synagogue.

On Tuesday around 500 Norwegians were set to attend a vigil outside an Oslo mosque.

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