COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Hundreds of people on Friday attended the Islamic burial of the gunman who killed two people in twin shootings in Copenhagen last weekend.
Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, 22, was placed in an unmarked grave in the Muslim cemetery in Broendby, on the outskirts of Copenhagen, watched by around 500 people, mostly young men wearing thick black jackets against the cold and rain, an AFP reporter said.
El-Hussein, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin, has been identified by police as the gunman who shot dead two people – a filmmaker and a volunteer Jewish security guard – in the Danish capital last weekend.
Before the burial, a short ceremony was held at a Copenhagen mosque following Friday prayers.
A man of east African origin, who refused to give his name, told AFP about the ceremony: “There were a lot of young people that you don’t normally see there... because they knew Omar. Some of them were gang members.
“They are my brothers too because they believe in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, but their lifestyle doesn’t have a lot to do with Islam,” he said.
A handful of those who were there he recognised as members of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, but there were also many “normal Muslims,” the man said.
“A Muslim cannot be denied a funeral. God will judge him,” he said.
A young man who said he knew El-Hussein described him as “normal”.
“He just made the wrong choices, I do not see him as a terrorist,” said the man, who gave his name as Mohammed.
El-Hussein had been linked to a criminal gang formed on the Copenhagen inner-city estate where he grew up.
Some of those who attended the funeral had covered their faces with scarves and hoods.
“We don’t trust you. We say one thing (to you) and then you report something else,” one man – sporting a shaved head, baggy trousers and a beard – told a journalist.
MUSLIM COMMUNITY DIVIDED
Copenhagen’s Muslim community was divided ahead of the funeral.
A spokesman for the Danish Islamic Burial Fund objected to El-Hussein being buried at a cemetery run by his group.
“My concern is over extremist attitudes and actions on both sides,” Ahmet Deniz told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper before the burial.
The funeral organiser, Kasem Said Ahmad, also from the Islamic Burial Fund, rejected claims that large numbers attending the funeral could be interpreted as support for the alleged gunman.
“It is a support for the family, not for him,” he told Jyllands-Posten.
At the Friday sermon, held in Arabic, topics included how Muslims can work with each other to create a peaceful society, and the “threat” against Danish Muslims’ security in the wake of the attacks.
Members of the Muslim community have reported a rise in anti-Muslim violence and discrimination across Denmark since the attacks.
“It’s physical abuse in the form of stranglehold, violence, spitting and pushing,” Khaterah Parwani, a spokeswoman for anti-discrimination group DRC, told public broadcaster DR.
Denmark has been left in shock after the shootings in Copenhagen which targeted a meeting on free speech and Islam and the capital’s main synagogue.
Copenhagen police late Friday said El-Hussein’s DNA had been found at the site of the first shooting.
The 22-year-old was reportedly radicalised during a one-year stay in prison for stabbing a man. He was released just two weeks before the killings.
The attacks have prompted parallels with the Islamist attacks in Paris last month, in which 17 people died.