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Danes Express Grief and Condolences - 2001-09-12

Around the globe, initial reactions of horror and disbelief are giving way to expressions of sympathy for the victims - some spontaneous, others organized. The Danish capital, Copenhagen, is holding a number of candle light vigils and memorial services.

Within hours of the attacks in the United States, hundreds of people gathered at Copenhagen's Kristianskirken for a hastily arranged memorial. Among the five priests speaking at the service was Chad Rimmer, an American clergyman visiting Denmark.

"It makes my heart a little bit lighter to be here with you all this evening, and realize that even being such a long way from home at such a shocking time for all of us, I can realize that wherever you are in the world, Christians can gather in support of each other with a bond that goes beyond whatever passport you can carry," said Chad Rimmer.

In addition to the main memorial, half a dozen other Copenhagen churches opened all night for those wanting to pray and express their grief and condolences.

Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen went on nationwide television, saying he regards the attacks not just as an assault on American democracy, but on the entire free world. He pledged that counter measures carried out by the United States and its allies would have to be precise and measured. He said "The U.S. counterattack, and our joint counter-attack, will have to be efficient and carefully targeted, and then we will be in solidarity with that."

Outside the American embassy in central Copenhagen, a mountain of flowers piled up around the iron security fence. A host of dignitaries led by Denmark's foreign minister dropped by to pay their respects, and a crowd of several hundred people stood in the chilly evening, many with tears streaming down their faces.

Several people said they were convinced the attacks were a response to U.S. policy in the Middle East. Twenty-three-year old Peter Vingaard said such terrorism would surely unleash a wave of sympathy for the United States and damage the cause of the perpetrators.

"In Denmark there's a lot of argumentation going on about pro-the United States and contra the United States," said Mr. Vingaard. "Is the role of the United States justified? In the world what they're doing around. But either way, if the United States makes mistakes around the world, nothing justifies what happened today. It's so sad."

Another who came to pay his respects, 30-year-old Philip Juhl, said he was there to express his outrage. "We're all involved in this somehow, I think, because it's an attack on the western world, the civilized world, and democracy," he said.

Security at the American embassy was tightened within minutes after the attacks in New York and Washington. Extra police were also stationed outside the Israeli embassy.

In a country with so much interaction with the United States, the Danish foreign ministry opened a hotline for people concerned about relatives in New York and Washington. And Americans living here reported their phones were ringing constantly, mostly friends and relatives calling to express their condolences.