A Heroic Kebab Shop Owner Saved A German Mayor Stabbed For Pro-Refugee Views

"I will continue to work for people, for refugees and for the weaker members of society."

On November 27, a German politician named Andreas Hollstein was stabbed in the neck inside of a kebab restaurant in Altena, Germany, where he serves as mayor. According to the Washington Post, authorities believe the attack was politically motivated. 

Hollstein, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union, is known for his pro-immigration stance. According to authorities, Hollstein's alleged attacker asked if he was the mayor before lunging at him and stabbing him with a foot-long blade, and reportedly remarked, "I myself am hungry and thirsty" while the mayor "keeps bringing more refugees."

At a news conference hours after the attack, Hollstein, who had a bandage on his neck, credited kebab shop owner, Abdullah Demir, as well as Demir's wife and son, with saving his life. Demir is of Turkish origin. "I'm sure that if they hadn't reacted like that I wouldn't be alive now," Hollstein explained. Per the BBC, Demir and his son were able to overpower the assailant, who was reportedly drunk at the time of the attack, while Demir's wife called the police.

After learning of the assault on the 54-year-old mayor, Merkel reportedly tweeted that she was "outraged" by the knife attack, and very relieved Hollstein is now back with his family. "Thanks also to those who helped him," she added.

In a tweet translated from German, Heiko Maas — Germany's Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection — wrote of the assault, "Never allow people to be attacked just because they help others. There must be no room in our country for hatred and violence."

But as WaPo points out, Hollstein's pro-immigration views have made him a target in the past. According to the publication, local German media outlets have reported the mayor received "anonymous emails soaked in hate" after he championed the effort for Altena — a struggling factory town of about 17,000 — to take in approximately 450 refugees (more than mandated) fleeing various crises around the world.

In fact, Hollstein has been so welcoming to refugees from countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that Altena won Germany's first National Integration Prize in May, which was awarded by Merkel. Altena apparently took home the top prize because of Hollstein's establishment of a database that tracks refugees' skills and attempts to match them to jobs and sponsors already living in Germany.

Still, even in the aftermath of his near death experience, Hollstein told reporters he won't stop fighting for what is right. "I will continue to work for people. For refugees and for the weaker members of society," he explained, according to the New York Times. "That is the job of a good mayor."

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