The mayor of West German town Altena, known for his welcoming approach to refugees, was stabbed in the neck on Monday in a politically-motivated attack, local broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. He has since recovered.
A 56-year-old man, reportedly drunk at the time, attacked Andreas Hollstein, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, at a kebab shop. Police have arrested the accused and charged him with murder.
Hollstein thanked the shop’s owner, Demir Abdullah, and his son for tackling the assailant. “I am certain that if I had not received help, I would not be here,” Hollstein said during a press conference.
The attacker, identified as Werner S, asked Hollstein “Are you the mayor?” and made comments about the town’s immigration policies before slashing at his throat, Reuters reported. “You let me die of thirst and let 200 refugees into Altena,” Hollstein recalled Werner as saying.
Altena, a town of about 17,000, has accepted a significant number of immigrants in recent years after factories closed and the population dwindled. The town has also won national awards for its efforts to integrate the refugees.
“It brings us no further forward if we transmit political views with hate,” Hollstein said, adding that this attack will not change his views and his work for the people of the town. “I will push for refugees and for other people in a weaker social situation.”
In 2015 alone, Germany took in more than 10 lakh asylum seekers, fleeing from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.