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In Denmark, Shock Gives Way To A Vow To Carry On

Candelight vigil in Copenhagen's Osterbro area on Monday
Candelight vigil in Copenhagen's Osterbro area on Monday
Francesca Paci

COPENHAGEN — Niels Ivar Larson, a Danish journalist and one of the organizers of last Saturday night's debate on Islam and free speech at the Krudttønden cafe, says he's in shock that a terrorist attacked the event and subsequently a synagogue, killing two and injuring five police officers.

"Despite having received threats, Denmark has never been the subject of an attack like this, the worst since World War II," he says. "We knew that this could happen."

He describes it as an eventuality so theoretical that, after having introduced the French ambassador, when he heard the shots ring out, he didn't think about terrorism. "It was just a second, and then I heard shouting in a foreign language — maybe it was Arabic — then we all jumped under desks, and I remembered our colleagues at Charlie Hebdo."

Now, he says, life, at least to all appearances, is continuing the same as always. The locals went about their Sunday the following day, mothers with flushed cheeks pedalling their bikes with kids in carts behind them. The police aren't any more visible, though the atmosphere feels heavy, as though it was going to rain.

Denmark, the idyllic home to 5.5 million people and dubbed the happiest country in the world, has the collective feeling that what happened the last few days is something out of a movie. "No one imagined that it could happen to us," says university student Andreas Skadborg, confessing he finds it hard to believe that his country has suddenly found itself in the crosshairs of the sectarian hatred that is unfortunately marking the new millennium.

The Danish synagogue attacked Sunday morning is a couple of blocks away. In front of the entrance, between the people gathered in solidarity and supervised by a police squad, 52-year-old Jacob articulates the same astonishment. "We're not in France here, and until now the Jews had never felt in danger," he says.

With two people dead and five injured, it's Danish intelligence head Jens Madsen who hypothesized about a massacre eerily similar to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last month. The presumed killer was a 22-year-old who had devoted himself to crime.

The loss of innocence

Krudttønden cafe is in the Østerbro area, one of the most affluent in Copenhagen. At the front of the building, where cameras are stationed, an expanse of funeral candles are lined up. Writer Morten Brask lives a few blocks away. "I talked with my friends, I looked on social networks," he says. "There's a strange atmosphere here, almost as if fear made us lose our bearings. We must stay firm and carry on as if nothing had happened."

The Danes have lost their innocence over the past few years, Brask says. "In 2005, by publishing the cartoons caricaturing Muhammad, the Jyllands-Posten revealed that the tolerance of a "village" like ours can change to completely the opposite in the global village," he says, referring to the daily Danish newspaper.

Culturally and politically, the challenge here is radical Islam, which the young Danish poet Yahya Hassan has denounced for some time now. "It's undeniable that Islamic fundamentalism is now putting our values on trial," says a young man named Hecktor, who's hanging out at a student pub not far away from the city's Christiania district.

His friend Clement Knudsen, who supports the far-left Red-Green Alliance, is thinking about the upcoming general election in September. "This will benefit the right-wing Danish People's Party," he says. "For years, they've been riding on the anti-Europeanism that seduces even anti-racists like me, but now they'll leave the Polish immigrants alone and campaign about Islamophobia: us versus them."

Staying united

Identity is a sensitive subject in Denmark, where the left and right agree on issues such as gay marriage or abortion, in the belief that political issues have to do with the economy and foreign affairs.

"We must be united," booms Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. And insists the journalist Larsen, "We must reject any self-censorship."

Denmark admits its shock but flaunts control — perhaps too much — with everyone ruling out any reprisals against Islamic places of worship. Yet, says Pakistani taxi driver Mohammed, parents of Muslim immigrants who live here are phoning to see if everything is OK.

"I am a liberal and a socialist, but I'm afraid that the EU's contradictions are making us implode from the inside," says 26-year-old Sisdel Jensen. Today he looks back and smiles bitterly. "Our sense of Protestant responsibility conflicts with the cultural differences of people who, in the absence of control, won't pay the price for those who hate our freedom."

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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