February newsmakers: Finn Nørgaard and Dan Uzan

Last month's terrible attacks left us dumbfounded and sparked heated public debates about issues ranging from free speech to radicalisation. But while these might be important debates to have, they shouldn't overshadow the fact that it was primarily a human tragedy that took the lives of two innocent people

Finn Nørgaard
It wasn’t immediately clear why the attacker shot and killed Finn Nørgaard at close range outside the Krudttønden theatre. Inside, a debate was taking place about blasphemy, attended by controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks – Vilks was thought to be the attacker’s target for his drawings of the Prophet Mohammed.

Eyewitness Clayton Coleman later said that Nørgaard tried to stop the attacker, and had wrestled with him as he shot into the building and at the three police officers.

“It looked like [Nørgaard] tried to grab his shoulders, but the assailant turned around and shot,” Coleman told TV2 News.

This act of selfless heroism didn’t surprise Nørgaard’s friend Lars K. Andersen. In an obituary written the day after the attack, Andersen said that he couldn’t let go of the thought that, “Finn had tried to stop the assailant.”

Nørgaard was a well-known documentary filmmaker who founded his own company, Filmselskabet, in 2001, after more than a decade working for DR. In 2004, he directed the documentary Boomerang-drengen, about an Australian boy who wanted to become a world boomerang champion.

In 2009, he directed En anden vej: Historien om fire nydanskere, a TV2 documentary about four young immigrant boys with criminal backgrounds that join businesswoman Stine Bosse on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

On the website of the Danish Film Institute, director Henrik Bo Nielsen bid farewell to his colleague on behalf of the film industry.

“It is vital that directors take an active part in the social debate, and not just through their works … That the consequence of taking part in a peaceful, democratic debate on art and freedom of speech on a Saturday afternoon in Copenhagen could be so final fills us with shock and anger.”

Nørgaard was 55 years old.

Dan Uzan
Uzan was manning the door of the Copenhagen Synagogue late on Saturday night during a Bat Mitzvah celebration when the attacker shot him at point blank range. Uzan was active in the Jewish community and died because of his religious heritage.

He received a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Copenhagen, and was an avid basketball player who had played for the Horsholm 79ers since 1996. While his mother was Danish, his father was from Israel, where Uzan lived for a time while he learned Hebrew.

Friends and family recount a man who was kind, helpful and loving.

“The most important thing for us is to tell people that Dan was wonderful, a wonderful man, friend and son. And it is completely devastating that he is no longer among us, it is such a loss for us all,” his friend Tobias Kyhl-Nielsen told TV2 news.

In an emotional speech during Uzan’s funeral, Denmark’s chief Rabbi Jair Melchior had to pause several times as he shared his memories of the deceased.

“Everything he stood for, his joy, his love. The responsibility he always was willing to accept. Those things will always stay with us.”

Uzan was 37 years old.

In memoriam
With an election planned for this year, their deaths will undoubtedly serve as the basis for arguments for political change, on both the right and left. But both Nørgaard and Uzan would be better remembered for why they died – in selfless attempts to protect other people. M


By Elias Thorsson

Managing editor. @Eliasthorsson

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