Henriette Reker was viciously stabbed in the neck a day before voters went to the polls. Reker suffered serious wounds in the attack, however, this didn’t stop her from being elected mayor of the city of Cologne, which is located in western Germany. As reported by CNN, the incident happened Saturday, and the attack was carried out by a man who disagreed with her liberal stance on refugees.
Reker, 58, was still in the hospital Sunday night after undergoing an emergency operation. The assailant, whose identity has not yet been released, was described as being a 44-year-old man who was reportedly upset over Germany’s immigration policy. On Sunday, a judge ruled that the suspect must remain in jail until his trial, and he faces charges of attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm.
According to a statement released by authorities, a psychological examination was performed on the suspect, and it revealed that he was fit to stand trial. A joint statement from the prosecutor and police said the suspect reportedly stated during interrogation that he was active in right-wing movements in the 1990s. Authorities believe he acted alone, and he has no past criminal record.
During a news conference, Cologne police official Norbert Wagner stated that the suspect “said he had a racist motivation for committing this act.” He was reportedly a past member of a neo-Nazi group identified with the origins of National Socialism, which is the ideology and practice associated with the 20th-century German Nazi Party and Nazi state as well as other far-right groups.
The stabbing took place on Saturday while Reker was campaigning in an open-air market, handing out roses to pedestrians.
“When she tried to give him one, he pulled out a knife and stabbed her in the neck,” campaign spokesman Frederik Schorn explained.
International Business Times wrote that immediately after the attack, members of all parties and citizens held a spontaneous rally in solidarity with Henriette Reker near Cologne’s main shopping street. A larger demonstration around Cologne’s City Hall was announced for the evening.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and other representatives of the German parliamentary expressed their shock at what had happened, saying that the incident reflects the growing tension in the country over the migrant crisis. Justice minister Heiko Maas also condemned the attack, calling it “an unimaginable and abominable act.”
The arrival of refugees to Germany has divided the country, and Merkel is facing pressure from its conservative ranks to stop the migration crisis. It is a widely believed idea that Eastern Europeans have less tolerance or more enmity toward foreigners than Western Europe.
The mayoral candidate had openly supported Merkel’s policy aimed at opening the doors of Germany to a greater number of refugees and promised to improve the living conditions of refugees in Cologne, many of whom live in tents. Henriette Reker won 51 percent of the vote, according to results released from 750 data centers, and made history by becoming the first woman to be elected as mayor of Cologne.
Although she ran as an independent, the candidate had the support of the Christian Democratic party led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as two other organizations.
The latest updates regarding Henriette Reker’s condition say that she sustained serious injuries to her throat and trachea, but her life is no longer in danger after undergoing an emergency surgery on Saturday. Doctors at the University Hospital of Cologne confirmed to German media sources that she is doing well and is expected to make a complete recovery.
[Image via Twitter]