German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been surprised by a knife attack on a mayor of a small town west of the country who reportedly was stabbed over his liberal refugee policies.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a Tuesday Tweet that the chancellor was “horrified” by the attack on Andreas Hollstein, the 54-year-old mayor of the town of Altena, who had been stabbed a day earlier by a man critical of his acceptance of refugees in the town.
The spokesman said Merkel was very relieved that the mayor escaped the fatal knifing and that “he was already able to return to his family.”
“Thanks also to those who helped him,” said Siebert, making a reference to employees of a Kebab shop who helped Hollstein to a hospital after he was stabbed in front of the shop.
“You let me die of thirst and take in 200 refugees in Altena,” the male assailant had shouted on Hollstein before stabbing the mayor which left him with a six-inch neck wound.
Hollstein said the man, apparently motivated by the local leader’s pro-refugee stance, asked if he was the mayor before pulling the knife. He said the assailant, 56 and under the influence of alcohol, was by no means incapacitated as it took three men to overpower him.
The mayor is a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and has been awarded for his services in accommodating scores from a refugee flow that began to hit Germany two years ago. He said the attack would not deter him serving the refugees.
“I’m going to continue to work for refugees, for those who are already here and for those who are still arriving, for the weak and the strong in our society, like a good mayor should,” said Hollstein Tuesday.
Merkel’s pro-refugee policy, which has seen more than a million accepted in Germany since 2015, has cost her dearly as she still struggles to patch together a coalition in her fourth term in office after far-right parties managed to weaken CDU’s mandate in the recent elections by criticizing the chancellor for he welcoming of refugees.