The grave of famous Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson was vandalised this weekend less than 24 hours after a Muslim cemetery was also desecrated in Copenhagen. Police have so far refused to link the incidents, but the nature of the vandalising does suggest a political motivation.
The Local reports that vandals destroyed around 50 graves at the Muslim cemetery in the suburb of Brøndby, urinating on some, although police initially described it as little more than a “prank”.
“We don’t consider this to be something aimed at the Muslim community, there isn’t anything to indicate that. It looks like a prank in which someone went out there and just knocked them down,” an officer said.
However the comment sparked anger from left-wing MPs who took to social media to denounce the police.
Socialist People’s Party MP Özlem Cekic said on Twitter: “A Muslim cemetery is vandalized but police don’t see it as politically motivated? Why?”
Radical MP Zenia Stampe also called for the police to take the incident more seriously, writing on Facebook: “A policeman talked about this as ‘a prank’. I am very angry about the use of that word.”
Police rowed back, said they were giving the incident top priority.
“We consider this to be political-religious vandalism and we are investigating it and giving it all the attention we can. It has been given high priority and so that this doesn’t develop any further, we have put patrols in place at the Muslim cemetery,” Inspector Bjarne Nisted from Copenhagen Vestegn Police said.
However he admitted he had no evidence it was politically motivated: “We haven’t found anything that indicates what kind of motive was behind it or who could be responsible for the destruction. On the other hand, it is unlikely that the location was chosen randomly and those who carried out the vandalism may have had their own crazy agenda.”
Less than 24 hours later, the grave of writer Hans Christian Andersen, one of the most popular figures in Danish history, was also vandalised with an obscenity. Copenhagen Police confirmed early on Sunday: “We received a report at 8.40pm that graffiti had been noticed on the tombstone. A patrol confirmed that ‘F*ck Denmark’ had been written with a silver-coloured marker. Further down on the stone, it says ’69!’.”
Police spokesman Henrik Brix said, however, that he could not link the two acts.
“We don’t know if this is an act of revenge. It is curious that these two things happen so close to each other but we cannot draw any other conclusions than that there have been two desecrated burial sites,” he said.
Police then said they believed the graffiti was written on the Andersen grave before the attack at the Muslim cemetery.
Brix said: “Right now we have few clues. We have a sole imprint but this is a very well-visited area, so it can be difficult. We hope to find the marker and have looked for it in the rubbish bins.”
Hans Christian Andersen is best known for his children’s fairy tales, including The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and the Snow Queen. His stories remain world-famous and have inspired many plays and Disney films.