Upwards of 500 people turned up in front of the US Embassy on Østerbro on Sunday afternoon to join a peaceful demonstration organised by the Scandinavian wing of the Islamic political organisation Hizb-ut-Tahrir.
The police had taken precautions and there were about ten vans outside the embassy, where demonstrators shouted slogans and held banners and signs denouncing the recent ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film that has caused violence and unrest in many parts of the Muslim world recently.
The anti-Islamic film caused an uproar after it was aired on the Egyptian TV station Al-Nas TV on September 8, and subsequent riots throughout the Muslim world have destroyed a number of foreign embassies and led to the killing of the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans on September 11.
The wide range of banners in Østerbro included such slogans as “Our prophet, our legacy, ‘your freedom’, your hypocrisy” and “Freedom of expression, a means of oppression” and the demonstrators heard speeches in Danish, English and Arabic condemning the US presence in the Middle East.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s spokesman in Scandinavia, Chadi Freigeh, contended that the demonstration occurred due to an intolerant and Islamophobic atmosphere that has been created by current and past US administrations.
“This insult should not be considered as a single action committed by some lunatic out there. It’s caused by the American policy in the Muslim world,” Freigeh told The Copenhagen Post. “So we are here to tell the Americans that their attempt to run away from their responsibilities, whether we are talking about this movie, all the other insults, or all the problems in the Muslim world, cannot be condoned.”
With the US flag atop the embassy at half-mast, the demonstrators had congregated across the street where the men were in one bunch and the women in another, not permitted to demonstrate alongside the men. A number of children were also present.
The nearly two-hour demonstrations remained peaceful throughout, but as it concluded a group of young people began throwing rocks and powerful fire crackers.
Armour-clad riot police were quick to control the situation and while at least one person was arrested, the police believed that the youths were an element that was not part of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir-organised demonstration, but were youths that had journeyed all the way up from the Odense suburb of Vollsmose to instigate trouble.
There was no activity in the US Embassy and they had warned US citizens in Denmark to stay away from the embassy, while its employees had been instructed to do the same.