Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen 'shaken' after being attacked in street

'I am saddened and shaken by the episode but am otherwise safe,' the prime minister said

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen attending D-Day commemorations in Normandy. Photo: AP
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Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has been left “shaken” after being attacked in the street in central Copenhagen.

A 39-year-old man, who was arrested at the scene, appeared in court in the Danish capital on Saturday.

The Polish national was charged with violence against an official. He is alleged to have hit the Danish premier with a clenched fist on her right upper arm.

The accused, who appeared in court with a translator, pleaded not guilty and the court remanded him in custody until June 20. His lawyer told the court there was no political motivation for the attack.

The Prime Minister is suffering from “minor whiplash” and received a check-up at a hospital, her office said in a statement on Saturday.

Ms Frederiksen, 46, is otherwise unharmed but is “shaken” by the incident.

The assault on her comes weeks after Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot four times at close range in an attack that left him fighting for his life.

Two witnesses, Marie Adrian and Anna Ravn, said they had seen the Danish Prime Minister arrive in the capital’s Kultorvet square while they were sitting by a nearby fountain, just before 6pm on Friday.

“A man came by in the opposite direction and gave her a hard shove on the shoulder, causing her to fall to the side,” the two women told local media.

They added that Ms Frederiksen did not hit the ground.

They said the man had tried to hurry away but had been grabbed and pushed to the ground by men in suits.

Ms Frederiksen's schedule was cleared on Saturday but she also released a statement.

“Thank you for the many, many, many greetings with support and backing. It's incredibly touching,” Ms Frederiksen told the Ritzau news agency.

“I am saddened and shaken by the episode yesterday, but am otherwise safe. For once, I need peace. Both for body and soul. I need to be with my family and need to be myself for a bit”.

Fellow politicians in the Scandinavian country and leaders abroad condemned the assault.

“I must say that it shakes all of us who are close to her,” Danish Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke said in a post to social media.

“Something like this must not happen in our beautiful, safe and free country.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said violence had no place in politics as he wished the Danish leader a swift recovery.

“Democracies must be free from intimidation and threats,” Mr Sunak said in a post on X.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that “an attack on a democratically elected leader is also an attack on our democracy”.

Petteri Orpo, the Finnish Prime Minister, said he strongly condemned “all forms of violence against the democratically elected leaders of our free societies”.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the attack as “unacceptable”, in a statement on X.

“I strongly condemn this act and wish Mette Frederiksen a speedy recovery,” said Mr Macron.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said it was a “despicable act which goes against everything we believe and fight for in Europe”.

In 2019, Ms Frederiksen became the country's youngest prime minister and kept the post after emerging victorious in the 2022 general election.

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

Although assaults on politicians in Denmark are rare, in March 2023 two activists threw red paint on then-Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen inside the parliament and were immediately arrested.

Updated: June 09, 2024, 4:06 AM