Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Assaulted, Man Arrested

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - 2024/05/28: Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen is seen duri
Tomas Tkacik/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – The Danish prime minister is suffering a minor whiplash but is otherwise fine after a man assaulted her in central Copenhagen, her office said in a statement Saturday.

Police confirmed on social media Platform X on Friday that “there has been an incident” with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and that a 39-year-old man was arrested.

Frederiksen was rushed to a hospital for a check-up soon after, and though unharmed, she was “shaken by the incident,” according to her office, adding that she has cancelled her program for the day to rest.

The suspect is set to appear Saturday in a pre-trial custody hearing at 1100 GMT at the Copenhagen District Court in Frederiksberg, a municipality enclave within the Danish capital.

Details of the incident remain unclear but local media reported that the man seems to have forcefully walked toward Frederiksen and pushed her hard while she was passing Kultorvet Square, one of Copenhagen’s main piazzas.

Two eyewitnesses, Anna Ravn and Marie Adrian, told the daily BT that they saw a man walking toward the prime minister and then “pushing her hard on the shoulder so she was shoved aside.” They stressed that she did not fall down.

Another witness, Kasper Jørgensen, told the Ekstra Bladet tabloid that a well-dressed man, who seemed part of Frederiksen’s protection unit, and a police officer took down the assailant.

Politicians in the Scandinavian country and abroad condemned the assault.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, said he was shocked to hear what happened to Frederiksen, whom he called a friend.

“NATO allies stand together to protect our values, freedom, democracy and our rule of law,” Stoltenberg wrote on the social media platform, X, on Saturday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that “an attack on a democratically elected leader is also an attack on our democracy.” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said he strongly condemned “all forms of violence against the democratically elected leaders of our free societies.”

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, condemned on X what he called a “cowardly act of aggression.”

European Union parliamentary elections are currently underway in Denmark and the rest of the 27-nation bloc and will conclude on Sunday.

Frederiksen has been campaigning with the Social Democrats´ EU lead candidate, Christel Schaldemose. Media reports said the attack was not linked to a campaign event.

Violence against politicians has become a theme in the run-up to the EU elections. In May, a candidate from Germany’s center-left Social Democrats was beaten and seriously injured while campaigning for a seat in the European Parliament.

In Slovakia, the election campaign was overshadowed by an attempt to assassinate populist Prime Minister Robert Fico on May 15, sending shockwaves through the nation of 5.4 million and reverberating throughout Europe.

Frederiksen, 46, is the leader of the Social Democratic Party and has been Denmark’s prime minister since 2019.

She has steered Denmark through the global COVID-19 pandemic and a controversial 2020 decision to wipe out Denmark’s entire captive mink population to minimize the risk of the small mammals retransmitting the virus.

Assaults on politicians in Denmark are rare.

On March 23, 2003, two activists threw red paint on then-Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen inside the parliament and were immediately arrested. Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller also suffered some splashes that day.

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