Going Global: German politician stabbed during campaign rally

Anti-foreigner motives prompted the stabbing of 58-year-old German politician Henriette Reker during a campaign rally for Mayor of Cologne on Saturday, October 17. One other woman was seriously wounded in the attack, and three other individuals sustained minor injuries.

After sustaining stab wounds to the neck Reker, an independent candidate supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where she underwent emergency surgery. She is currently in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

The suspect, a 44-year-old German national, is believed to have acted alone, and later admitted to targeting Reker due to her pro-refugee efforts. A recent psychiatric exam has concluded that he can and will be held criminally responsible for the attack on the politician.

Reker currently heads Cologne’s social affairs and integration department, where she is responsible for setting up refugee housing around the city, and has been a strong proponent for the accepting and housing refugees throughout the migrant crisis.

This incident has highlighted growing concerns about the German population’s response to the massive influx of refugees, particularly in regards to cases of hateful and violent actions. Germany, which has accepted more refugees than any other European nation, is expected to take in upwards of 1.5 million people by the end of this year.  

Though most German are welcoming to the displaced populations, there have been isolated incidents of anti-refugee vandalism (including graffiti and arson) and violence throughout the nation, specifically targeting refugee shelters.

In a statement on the stabbing, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, “This cowardly attack in Cologne is further evidence of the increasing radicalization of the refugee debate.”

Despite her condition, Reker went on to win the Mayoral election in Cologne — Germany’s fourth biggest city — on Sunday, October 18.