Danish schoolboy flips middle finger at PM’s photo opportunity

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen posted a picture of her recent visit to a Zealand school on social media, seemingly unaware that one of the pupils seated behind her was making an insulting gesture.

Danish schoolboy flips middle finger at PM's photo opportunity
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The PM’s public relations team might have thought twice about posting the photo, from a visit to the Bavneskolen school in Dalby in central Zealand on Thursday, had they looked a little closer at the pupils forming the backdrop to the opportunity.

“Thank you for an incredibly lovely visit this morning. It’s splendid to experience both children and teachers who are just happy to be back at school,” Frederiksen wrote aside the image, which she posted on Instagram and Facebook.

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A post shared by Mette Frederiksen (@mette)

Not everyone in the class was impressed by the presence of the PM, who posts frequently on the two social media websites but does not have her own Twitter account.

One of the ninth-grade students can be seen behind Frederiksen’s left shoulder discreetly raising the middle finger of his right hand in an offensive gesture towards the camera.

Broadcaster TV2  has spoken to the pupil in question, Nick Larsen, who said his raised middle digit was not aimed “specifically” at the prime minister.

“It was just an impulsive act, but I didn’t especially want her to visit,” the 15-year-old said.

He added that he assumed the photo was being taken for the class, rather than for national exposure.

“I had no idea. It was my sister and my friends who let me know that it was suddenly all over the place,” he told TV2.

Nevertheless, he added he is “allowed free expression, just like everyone else is”. TV2 writes that the teenager is dissatisfied with having been sent home from school for almost five months, and that he had asked Frederiksen whether people who are unable to take vaccines will be able to travel when vaccine passports are introduced.

“She said that you can travel to the EU and some other countries. But it would require a negative test and isolation and that kind of thing,” he told newspaper BT. He also said to BT that he is “not a fan of (Frederiksen) and what she does”.

“I think she should listen more to others. It’s as if she’s the only one who’s allowed to do things,” he explained.

Frederiksen’s Social Democratic party told BT it did not wish to comment on the photo.

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Danish government criticised over post-election mink text announcement

The Ministry of Justice announced in a statement on Tuesday evening that SMS messages sent by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen or her staff in relation to the decision to cull fur farm minks in November 2020 could not be recovered.

Denmark's government said on Tuesday it could not recover text messages requested by an official commission in relation to an ongoing inquiry. The timing, hours after local elections, was strongly criticised by opposition lawmakers.
Denmark's government said on Tuesday it could not recover text messages requested by an official commission in relation to an ongoing inquiry. The timing, hours after local elections, was strongly criticised by opposition lawmakers. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

As such, an official inquiry currently scrutinising the decision last year to cull millions of fur farm mink will not have insight into key government communication relating to the controversial decision.

The PM has faced questions over a policy to automatically delete texts after 30 days, a practice not universally applied across government ministries.

“It has only been possible for police technicians to recreate a limited amount of SMS messages from the devices of justice ministry heads of department,” justice minister Nick Hækkerup said in the statement.

READ ALSO: Why are Danish PM Frederiksen’s deleted mink texts causing controversy?

The timing of the announcement, less than 24 hours after local elections, drew immediate criticism from opposition parties.

The Ministry of Justice received the material needed for analysis of the devices on Friday last week, news wire Ritzau reports.

Justice spokesperson Morten Dahlin of the opposition Liberal party said it was “easy to assume” that the government held back the announcement to avoid a negative impact for the Social Democrats in local elections.

READ ALSO: How damaging is local election result for Danish PM Frederiksen?

“It’s foul play not to go public with this information when it was received, but instead choose to keep it back. And you can only speculate about whether this is because the information wasn’t allowed to come out before the municipal elections,” Dahlin said.

The Liberal representative stressed that his party has “no confidence” in the government’s response to the controversy over the mink texts.

Hækkerup rejected the suggestion by the Liberals that the government had deliberately withheld information until after the election.

“That is simply not true. The process was that we in the Ministry of Justice received the material in sealed envelopes on Friday. We agreed on Monday with the Mink Commission [official inquiry, ed.] that we should meet with the commission and its assistants which was to have the material and review it with their clients. So it’s a process that was agreed with the Mink Commission,” Hækkerup said.

The minister’s comment was in turn rejected by his opposition counterpart.

“The explanation that the information was stored in sealed envelopes, which were coincidentally not opened before the municipal elections, is ridiculous,” Dahlin said.