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'I am not quite myself': Danish PM gives first interview after attack

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, center, speaks during a press conference, Copenhagen, Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, center, speaks during a press conference, Copenhagen, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. Copyright Jeremias Gonzalez/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Jeremias Gonzalez/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Abby ChittyTamsin Paternoster with AP
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Danish Prime Minister Metter Frederiksen suffered minor whiplash in a street attack that follows a wave of attacks on politicians across Europe.

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In her first interview to Danish channel TV 2 since she was assaulted in a street attack last week, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters "I am not quite myself,” and will continue to work from her office.

Frederiksen suffered a minor whiplash after a man assaulted her in central Copenhagen on Friday evening. Local media reported that a man walked towards Frederikson and pushed her before hitting her upper right arm.

Danish police believe the incident was likely not politically motivated.

The assault took place in Kultorvet, one of Copenhagen's main squares.

Frederiksen did not give further details of the assault but told journalist, "it is very intimidating when someone crosses the last physical limit you have. There is some shock and surprise in that.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a press conference in Copenhagen, Wednesday, March 13, 2024.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a press conference in Copenhagen, Wednesday, March 13, 2024.Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau/Scanpix

The prime minister indicated that the assault followed "threats over a long period of time on social media have gotten worse, especially after the war in the Middle East."

“As a human being, it feels like an attack on me,” said Frederiksen. “But I have no doubt it was the prime minister that was hit. In this way, it also becomes a kind of attack on all of us.”

The incident drew both domestic and international criticism as both Danish ministers and other leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, calling the attack "unacceptable."

A 39-year-old Polish man living in Denmark was arrested and held in pre-trial custody until June 20.

Wave of attacks across Europe

The assault on Frederiksen follows a wave of violence directed towards politicians across Europe.

The most serious was an assassination attempt against Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot multiple times last month as he greeted supporters. Fico survived the attack, but faces a long recovery.

In Germany, attacks on Green politicians have almost tripled in the past decade according to the German Federal Statistical Office.

Other politicians in Germany are not immune as both the coalition government and opposition parties' day members and supporters have faced attacks in the run-up to the European elections.

Election posters from various parties hanging on a lamp post in Mannheim, Germany, Wednesday, June 5, 2024.
Election posters from various parties hanging on a lamp post in Mannheim, Germany, Wednesday, June 5, 2024.Rene Priebe/(c) Rene Priebe

Last week, a local council candidate for Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was injured in a knife attack in Mannheim.

In an interview with German television Tageschau, Social Democrat politician Lars Klingbeil pointed to an increase in violence against politicians on campaign trails, saying, "We notice at the party headquarters that colleagues keep coming to us and reporting that they have been attacked, threatened or persecuted. And the other democratic parties are experiencing this too. This is a social problem."

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