• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Pro-refugee candidate wins after knife attack

AFP · 19 Oct 2015, 07:07

Published: 19 Oct 2015 07:07 GMT+02:00

Henriette Reker, who was in stable condition in hospital after being seriously injured in Saturday's assault, has become the most prominent victim of a growing backlash against a huge influx of migrants to Germany.

Standing as an independent, though close to the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the 58-year-old had been the frontrunner to enter town hall and final results gave her a clear win with 52.6 percent of the vote.

"Victory! We are delighted for Henriette Reker," her campaign team said in a tweet, calling her win "a new start for Cologne".

Trailing in second place was Jochen Ott of the centre-left Social Democrats who secured 32 percent of the vote.

Reker, a trained lawyer, was largely unknown at the national level before she was attacked by a 44-year-old man wielding two knives. Four others were also injured in the stabbing, which happened while Reker was campaigning at a street market.

The crime sparked nationwide outrage with Merkel herself expressing shock at the incident. Police said the attack was a "racist" and "political" act.

Hospital staff said Sunday that, after undergoing emergency surgery, Rekerwas expected to make a full recovery.

For the past five years, Reker has been responsible for running refugee services in Cologne, Germany's fourth-largest city with 980,000 inhabitants.

Tasked with accommodating asylum seekers from Syria and other war zones, she has housed them in sports halls, former commercial spaces and other sites, and has called for their social integration.

The attack against her came as Germany is struggling to cope with a record number of asylum seekers after Merkel said the country would open its doors to Syrian refugees.

Right-wing extremists mobilising'

While many Germans have welcomed the refugees, Merkel's stance has provoked a backlash among her conservative allies and sparked protests among the far-right.

The alleged attacker in Saturday's stabbing -- identified by German media only as Frank S., an unemployed house painter -- has been detained on charges of attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm.

Police said the suspect, arrested at the scene of the crime, was deemed mentally fit to face justice, had voiced "xenophobic sentiments" and had a history of far-right activism dating to the 1990s.

According to Der Spiegel magazine, the man told police that "foreigners are taking our jobs" and warned that Islamic Sharia law would soon hold sway in Germany.

Story continues below…

More than 630,000 people fleeing war and misery in the Middle East and Africa have landed on Europe's shores so far this year.

Most are trying to get to Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, which is expecting to register up to a million asylum seekers by year's end.

As a result, German security experts are bracing for a rise in unrest, with domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen warning in late September of radicalisation of right-wing groups and "a greater willingness to use violence" by all extremist groups.

A recent spike in attacks against asylum homes has added to concerns, while security forces are also keeping a close eye on the resurgent anti-Islamic Pegida movement in eastern Germany, which is to hold a rally on Monday to mark its first anniversary.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party finished in fourth place in the Cologne mayoral race with 4.0 percent of the vote.
Turnout stood at only 40 percent of eligible voters.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Man arrested in Wuppertal as part of Spanish Isis raids
Police detain the suspect in Wuppertal. Photo: DPA

Police have arrested five suspected members of an Isis cell in Spain, Belgium and Germany that spread propaganda for the group online, the Spanish interior ministry said Wednesday.

Germans cut home energy usage by six percent in a year
Hamburg at night. Photo: DPA

The Energiewende is the German government's ambitious policy of drastically reducing carbon emissions. New figures show one remarkable success.

Merkel party MP under fire for using Nazi propaganda term
Bettina Kudla. Photo: Büro Bettina Kudla MdB/DPA.

A member of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party is in hot water after tweeting over the weekend a Nazi propaganda term in her criticism of the country’s refugee policies.

Govt denies planning bailout for troubled Deutsche Bank
Photo: DPA

Germany's finance ministry on Wednesday said the government was "not preparing rescue plans" for Deutsche Bank, denying a newspaper report that state aid was being considered for the embattled lender.

Munich at high risk of housing bubble: report
A view of Munich. Photo: Pexels.com

Considering buying property in Munich? This report might make you think twice.

After fatal hail storm, south Germany set to see sun
The hail storm in Baden-Württemberg on Monday night left the streets looking like a winter landscape. Photo: DPA.

A hail storm in southwest Germany on Monday night led to the death of one woman, but forecasters predict a bit more sun in the days to come.

Police shoot dead father who attacked daughter's abuser
Police at the scene of the shooting in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Berlin police on Tuesday night shot and killed the father of a young girl at a refugee home as he tried to attack a man who allegedly sexually abused his daughter.

TV celebrity criticized for claiming 70 kg is overweight
Sophie Thomalla. Photo: DPA

Model Sophie Thomalla claimed that promoting models who weigh over 70 kg sets as dangerous an example as skinny supermodels.

UK files show how Spanish spy tricked Nazis over D-Day
Photo: DPA

Secret files released in Britain Wednesday shed new light on how a Spaniard dubbed the greatest double agent of World War II tricked Germany with false intelligence about the D-Day Normandy landings.

Pegida take to Dresden streets - to march against Pegida
Pegida demonstrators. Photo: DPA

Followers of the xenophobic Pegida movement marched in two factions on Monday evening in the capital of Saxony, brandishing fierce accusations of treason against one another.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,591
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd