Personal: Je suis Copenhagen

This weekend’s horrible incidents have left many, myself included, in a state of shock. Merely weeks after the attacks in Paris, terror has finally and undeniably “hit home”. The three shootings on Saturday afternoon and night and in the wee hours of Sunday morning all happened just a couple of kilometres away from where I live. It would feel wrong to not write how I feel about it.

As much as we are all in shock here in Copenhagen, what is even more overwhelming to me is the immediate reaction of compassion and solidarity, not only across the city and Denmark, but also from countries all over the world, both public and in private. Whether it is the spontaneous gathering in front of the Danish embassy in Paris, people putting down flowers by the synagogue on Krystalgade, or my friends messaging me whether I’m okay.

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Yes, terror has arrived here, in small, peaceful Denmark, one of the most liberal, open, and free societies in the world. In Copenhagen, a city where people are not afraid to leave their doors unlocked, where young girls bike home alone after a night out, and where kids can take the bus to school on their own.

I am hopeful that Copenhageners will not allow these freedoms to be taken away from them.

I am hopeful that these attacks will be seen as what they really are: the actions of individuals, not an entire group or religion.

I am hopeful that we will be able to inspire a message of love and solidarity, instead of growing mistrust and hate towards those who we perceive to be different.

I am hopeful that we can resist the temptation of sensationalism and portraying the perpetrator(s) as some sort of anti-heroes or super-villains and instead show them as who they are: sick individuals, who resent our free and open society because they could not find a place for themselves in it.

I am hopeful that we can celebrate the lives and memories of the innocent victims – a documentary film-maker and a guard for the synagogue – who both contributed to the values we wish to hold up.

I am hopeful that we can celebrate and genuinely thank all the policemen and –women, especially those who were injured in the line of duty, protecting us, the citizens of this city we all call a home.

 

If you’re in Copenhagen and you want to commemorate the victims, there will be a memorial services at the culture café, Krudttønden, at 8pm tonight, and other gatherings all around Denmark.

Other thoughts on this weekend’s events here and here, and a perspective on sensationalism here.

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4 thoughts on “Personal: Je suis Copenhagen”

  • My thoughts and prayers are with you, Laura, as you overcome the shock and start life anew. Life seems to happen in slow motion after a tragedy. I hope Copenhageners will embrace what they love about life and their city, instead of live in fear because when that happens the terrorists win. My heart breaks for your city, but I’m so glad you are safe!

    • Hi Caitlin, thank you for your kind words and your compassion. I’m confident that Copenhageners will be resilient and continue to look out for each other, and I’m confident that we are stronger than whoever or whatever tries to harm us!

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