COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A man previously convicted of terrorism admitted in court on Tuesday that he assaulted a young Danish poet of Palestinian descent who has been critical of Muslims.
Yahya Hassan, 18, suffered a head injury when he was attacked from behind at Copenhagen's central train station Monday evening, police spokesman Ove Bundgaard Larsen said. Hassan was struck with five to eight punches in the face and body, he said.
The suspect, 24-year-old Isaac Meyer, then known as Abdul Basit Abu Lifa, a Danish citizen of Palestinian descent, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2007 for his role in a botched terrorist plot to blow up an unidentified target in Europe. The case was linked to Bosnia, where two others were also convicted.
Meyer was released from jail in 2010. In a custody hearing, Meyer admitted that he assaulted Hassan and will be in custody for 13 days under preliminary charges of minor assault. If convicted, he could face up to three years in jail.
On Facebook, Hassan expressed his indignation. "Can one not speak freely without being attacked?" he wrote Tuesday. In his poetry, Hassan has criticized what he claims is a culture of hypocrisy underpinning Denmark's Muslim population. He has pointed to his Palestinian immigrant parents and their generation as the reason why he quit school and committed petty crimes.
He has also lashed out at Muslims for committing fraud with social benefits, beating their children and failing to integrate in Danish society while clinging to the Quran. His book of poetry — "Yahya Hassan" — has sold more than 17,000 copies since its publication on Oct. 17. Most poetry books in Denmark sell under 500 copies, according to the industry.
The publication has triggered numerous death threats against Hassan, who has police protection during public readings.