Some 23 people have so far been arrested as a result of yesterday’s unrest, which included pitched battles involving the police, numerous fires being set alight and all-out carnage – mostly in the Copenhagen district of Nørrebro, but also in other areas of the Danish capital.
The trouble started on Sunday afternoon when Nørrebro locals and counter-demonstrators took issue with a protest organised by the fierce Islam critic Rasmus Paludan.
Moved from Mjølnerparken
Earlier in the day, the police decided to move the protest from Mjølnerparken to Blågårdsplads, a square closer to the city centre, after a car had earlier exploded in the park at around 1 am on Sunday morning.
It proved to be the first of many vehicles set on fire over the following day. In total, the police report at least 70 such fires.
Tear gas hits passers-by
As counter-demonstrators moved in to attack Paludan, police officers chose to protect him, at which point an estimated gathering of 200 people started hurling cobblestones at them.
The police responded with tear gas, which affected a greater many passers-by, and some officers were even seen with their guns drawn, although none were fired.
Reputation for buffoonery
The difference between this demo and around 70 others Paludan has orchestrated over the last two years – at a cost of 24 million kroner to the taxpayer – is that this was staged in the heart of Nørrebro, a home to many of the capital’s Muslims.
Paludan, a lawyer whose demos often descend into buffoonery, has a reputation for burning the Koran.
Other parts of the city also saw violence and arson, including nearby Nordvest – which also has a high Muslim population – Amager, at the entrance to Christiania, and the Bolsjefabrikken culture house in Østerbro.
PM Lars Løkke Ramussen has condemned the violence, writing off Paludan’s provocations as “meaningless” and ultimately divisory.