Andreas Hollstein, the mayor of German town Altena and a member of chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party is recovering today after being stabbed in the neck by an assailant.
The attack happened in Altena on Monday evening at a local kebab restaurant, when, according to Spiegel Online, a man who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol criticised Mr Hollstein’s asylum policy and stabbed him in the neck with a 30cm-long knife. The man was arrested at the scene.
Hollstein was rushed to hospital for treatment and released a few hours later, appearing at a press conference on Tuesday morning sporting a large plaster on his neck. He used the conference to thank the owner of the kebab shop, Demir Abdullah, who along with his son overpowered the knife-wielding man. “I’m sure that if they hadn’t reacted like that I wouldn’t be alive now”, he said.
North Rhine-Westphalia premier Armin Laschet has said that the assumption among security services is that the attack was “politically motivated”. Angela Merkel condemned the attack, saying she was “horrified” by the incident, while also thanking those that helped Hollstein.
The town of Altena has won praise, and earlier this year an award, for its efforts in integrating refugees. The town opted to take 100 more refugees than the 270 it was allocated in 2015, and each family was assigned a mentor to help them settle in. At the award ceremony in May, Hollstein told the audience, “I believe we are leading Germany towards a bright future – that future is diverse.”
Germany accepted more than a million asylum seekers during the 2015-2016 migrant crisis, many of them Muslims. Germany’s far-right AfD party campaigned on an anti-immigration platform during the recent federal elections, fiercely critical of Merkel’s welcoming stance to refugees. The AfD took almost 13 percent of the vote, a result that saw them enter parliament for the first time with 94 seats.
The attack on Hollstein echoes a similar incident in 2015 when another CDU politician, Henriette Reker, was stabbed while on the campaign trail by a man claiming to be angry with her party’s asylum policy. She was seriously hurt, but recovered and went on to become mayor of Cologne.