A Jewish volunteer security guard gunned down outside a Copenhagen synagogue in February was honored posthumously Tuesday with the Berlingske Prize, which named him “Dane of the year.”
Dan Uzan, 37, was killed in a terror attack while standing guard outside the synagogue, where a bat mitzvah was taking place. A memorial service in the immediate aftermath of the twin shootings in Denmark, in which filmmaker Finn Norgaard was also killed, drew some 30,000 people who came to pay tribute to the victims.
Uzan’s family accepted the award on his behalf on Tuesday afternoon, according to Danish media. Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen praised the decision, saying Uzan was an inspiration.
Tom Jensen, the chief editor of the Berlingske magazine and one of the judges on the panel, said Uzan paid with his life to protect others and Danish people were grateful for his sacrifice. Uzan, an innocent terror victim, must be remembered, he added.
Some 25,000 Danes voted online for the ten nominees in the competition. The judges also determined 50 percent of the vote. The nominees included astronaut Andreas Mogensen, the first Dane in space; the CEO of the Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company; and Pia Kjærsgaard, the parliament speaker.
Uzan, the attack’s sole fatality and an active member of Copenhagen’s Jewish community, was labeled as a hero in the wake of the shooting.
The slain guard was a talented basketball player, received a degree in politics, spoke fluent Hebrew and lived in Israel for a period of time, according to Yair Melchior, the country’s chief rabbi.
“He was a person who was always willing to help. An amazing, amazing guy,” said Rabbi Melchior, who later described the 37-year-old as “irreplaceable.”
There are an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 Jews in Denmark, including about 2,000 active members of the Jewish community.