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article imageGerman pro-refugee candidate elected mayor after knife attack

By Phyllis Smith Asinyanbi     Oct 19, 2015 in Politics
Cologne - Henriette Reker, a pro-refugee mayoral candidate in Cologne, the fourth largest city in Germany, was attacked with a knife on Saturday. She won the election Sunday, with over 52 percent of the vote.
An unnamed 44-year-old man who disapproved of Reker's refugee aid program allegedly stabbed her in the neck the day before the mayoral election. Prior to the assault, the then-candidate worked a campaign booth in an open-air market, handing out roses to passersby.
According to campaign manager Frederik Schorn, a man approached, asking Reker for a flower. When she tried to give him one, he pulled out a knife and attacked her. Four other people were also injured, one of them seriously.
Der Spiegel reported the suspect was part of the neo-Nazi scene 20 years ago, but no recent affiliation was noted. Authorities said he made xenophobic comments on the Internet, and during an interrogation said, "The foreigners take our jobs."
Reker, an independent candidate closely tied to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), is expected to make a full recovery. She is now in serious, but stable condition. Shortly after the attack, members of all political parties and the general public held a spontaneous rally in support of Reker, near Cologne's main shopping district. A formal demonstration was held on Saturday evening.
Supporters of Cologne mayoral candidate Henriette Reker react after early results were published in ...
Supporters of Cologne mayoral candidate Henriette Reker react after early results were published in Cologne, western Germany, on October 18, 2015
Oliver Berg, DPA/AFP
The mayor-elect is well-known for her liberal views on immigration. The alleged assailant is an unemployed man, and reportedly told the police he stabbed Reker because he was angry that she supported asylum seekers who are coming to Germany. In her role as the current deputy-mayor of Cologne, Reker is responsible for accommodating new refugees in the city. She recently said, "When I speak of refugees, I don't speak of desperate measures and burdens but instead of potential and opportunity.
At a news conference, Cologne police officer, Norbert Wagner stated the attacker's motive for committing the violent act was racist. On Sunday, law enforcement said a psychiatric examination demonstrated the attacker can be held responsible. He has no police record and acted alone.
Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stated he was "deeply shocked by thie heinous and cowardly act." Merkel also condemned the incident.
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