The day before voters in Cologne, Germany, went to the polls, candidate Henriette Reker was stabbed in the neck by a man reportedly angered by her liberal stance on refugees. Expected to make a full recovery from the neck stabbing, Henriette Reker became Cologne's first female mayor on Sunday, winning the election by a landslide.
Reker had been giving out roses while campaigning at an outdoor market on Saturday when a 44-year-old man approached her. "When she tried to give him one, he pulled out a knife and stabbed her in the neck," campaign spokesman Frederik Schorn said. Four others also reportedly sustained injuries.
The attacker later told authorities of his disapproval of Germany's policy on refugees, CNN reported. Police believe that he acted alone. He now faces charges of attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm. Prosecutors and police said Sunday that a psychiatric examination showed that the man is able to be held criminally responsible for the attack.
On Sunday night, Reker was still at the hospital after an emergency operation. "We are sad and appalled by the targeted attack on Henriette Reker, our colleagues and other choice fighters," her campaign posted on Facebook. It also thanked those from Europe, the U.S. and India who wrote letters of support to Reker.
Cologne has a reputation for its diversity and acceptance, and Reker's campaign sought to appeal to those values.
In recent months, Germany has been the only European nation quick to accept refugees fleeing from their war-torn, conflict-ridden countries, and many Germans have gone out of their way to welcome them. However, the government has been struggling to accommodate the vast number of newcomers and the rising tensions that follow.
Cover image via Henriette Reker / Facebook