Sunday, September 16, 2012

Demonstration in front of U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen

As the Unitarisk Kirke's service ended earlier today, we became aware of a voice over a megaphone farther down the street. The Unitarian Church is a few buildings down from the American embassy; across the street the protesters were massed. At issue was the film critical of Islam that has sparked demonstrations and violence around the world.
This rally was organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group known in Denmark for its extremism.

I couldn't understand what was being said over the megaphone (the language wasn't Danish by the way), but one of those placards held aloft says, in English: "Freedom of expression is a means of repression." What the pictures don't show is the movement of the crowd ... men, women and children of all ages and diverse dress calming walking over and ducking under the striped tape to join the rally; none of them "ethnic Danes," however. The crowd grew to 1,000 in the course of the hour, radio reports said later. Those men in hazard vests are part of the organizing group, not police. 
That's the embassy in the picture below, with the police cars neatly lined up at an angle in front of it. There was no visible riot gear, no shields, no obvious display of firearms, just the police standing in their sky-blue shirt sleeves next to their vehicles, while the crowd chanted and a man called out a long harangue over the sound system.  


Life went serenely on otherwise -- people bicycling or strolling past police and rallyists, traffic slowing but not halting completely, press hanging around with their long-nosed cameras, a few by-standers stopping to take a shot with their mobile phones. There are much more dramatic, close-up images of the protesters available on Danish news websites by now, but this is what my camera saw.

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