In what appeared to witnesses to be an attack aimed at an artist known for his cartoons of Mohammed, one or more gunmen wounded three police officers at a Copenhagen cultural center that was hosting a conference titled “Art, Blasphemy, and the Freedom of Expression.”
Lars Vilk, who has lived under heavy security since having his life threatened over a 2007 cartoon depicting Mohammed as a dog, was speaking at the conference, which also featured a French ambassador and several other prominent free-speech advocates.
The shooting was an “obvious assassination attempt” on Vilks, event organizer Helle Merte Brix told the Associated Press.
Police had initially said they were seeking two suspect, but later said they were looking for one. The suspect or suspects, dressed in dark clothes, began shooting after the French ambassador had finished speaking.
Speaker and a member of the Ukrainian feminist protest group FEMEN Inna Shevchenko told the Telegraph that she was “saying that often it is an illusion that we have freedom of speech in Europe,” when someone began firing automatic weapons.
“I saw a masked man running past,” Brix said. “I clearly consider this as an attack on Lars Vilks.” Vilks was also an organizer of the event.
At the time of this writing, Danish police are not saying definitively that it was a terrorist attack, but they are investigating it as one. The Danish prime minister called the shootings “a terrorist act.”
The entire country was placed on high alert as police were searching for the suspect, who fled in a black Volkswagen.
Police released a description of the suspect that said he had an “Arabic appearance but with lighter skin than normal and black, slick hair.” They also said he was armed with a machine gun or machine rifle.
All things considered, it would be a shock if it wasn’t some Muslim Brotherhood-inspired jihadist sleeper cell behind the shooting.
Several European leaders wasted no time in condemning the attack and expressing solidarity with Denmark.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tweeted, “Freedom attacked in #Copenhagen. Solidarity with the Danes. @BCazeneuve (French interior minister) is going there. France does not yield. #JeSuisCharlie.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “I condemn the shootings in Copenhagen. Free speech must always be protected.”
So far, there has been not a peep from the White House. President Obama’s schedule had no public events for Saturday.