Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in Brazil’s presidential election, was stabbed at a campaign rally on Thursday and is in serious, but stable, condition. The assassination attempt pushed the already chaotic campaign into further disarray.
The far-right politician was attacked as he greeted a crowd in the southeast state of Minas Gerais, as Reuters reported. Bolsonaro, 63, suffered injuries to his intestines and liver, and could take two months to fully recover and will spend at least a week in the hospital, said Dr. Luiz Henrique Borsato, who operated on the candidate.
The suspect, who was arrested shortly after, said he acted at the request of God, according to the Brazilian publication GloboNews.
“His internal wounds were grave and put the patient’s life at risk,” the doctor said, adding that he is at risk of developing an infection caused by the perforation of the intestines, Reuters noted.
Congressman Bolsonaro is a controversial figure who has divided Brazilians society over his loaded comments regarding women, LGBT people, blacks and other minorities. His discourse, however, has attracted a devout following among conservative voters, BBC News noted.
The polls suggest he will get the most votes in the November presidential election if former President Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva remains blocked from running, making this Brazil’s most unpredictable election since the country returned to democracy three decades ago.
Left-wing Lula is the long-standing favorite to win the presidency bid, but he is currently in prison serving time for a controversial corruption charge. He is appealing against a ban on his candidacy, imposed after his conviction.
Some of Bolsonaro’s past comments that have caused uproar include equating homosexuality with pedophilia, and saying a congresswoman shouldn’t worry about being raped because she was too ugly.
Bolsonaro’s party is part of a tiny coalition that gets almost no campaign time on government-regulated candidate ad blocs on TV and radio, depending mainly on social media and rallies to gather support. If looked at from this perspective, the attack on him could hurt his chances of snagging the presidency. On the other hand, the candidate’s son, Flavio Bolsonaro, said Thursday that the event will boost his chances, Reuters.
“I just want to send a message to the thugs who tried to ruin the life of a family man, a guy who is the hope for millions of Brazilians: You just elected him president. He will win in the first round,” he said.