An independent candidate in the mayoral election in Cologne, Germany, was set to win the race Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse, despite having been stabbed in the neck Saturday in what police have deemed a politically motivated attack. Candidate Henriette Reker was in stable condition following the assault.
Reker, 58, was at a campaign event at a local market in Cologne Saturday when a man approached her and her aides shouting xenophobic remarks about refugees. The man stabbed Reker in the neck and stomach using two different knives and assaulted other people in her group. The alleged attacker said “I am the Messiah. I’m doing it for you all,” the Telegraph reported.
The progressive candidate, who was still recovering in a hospital Sunday afternoon, had won 52.7 of the nearly 75 percent of votes that had been counted, according to AFP, setting her up to be the first female mayor of Cologne. She had the support of three parties, including Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union of Germany.
#BREAKING Cologne stabbing victim, Henriette Reker, elected mayor, according to early results
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) October 18, 2015
Reker, who has been an outspoken advocate for refugees in the community, served as the integration minister in the region, ensuring that asylum seekers were given adequate food and shelter as they waited for their applications to be processed. The city of nearly 1 million inhabitants has a large Muslim minority, and many of the refugees arriving from Iraq and Syria are also Muslim.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have surged into Europe since January, with at least 800,000 likely seeking asylum in Germany by the end of the year, where the economy is strong and Merkel has made clear that the country will accommodate as many refugees as possible.
The influx of refugees has been met with a variety of reactions from the German people, ranging from open-armed welcome to violent dissent. While thousands of people have organized "Refugees Welcome" events and showed up at train stations to welcome new arrivals with water and candy, violence against refugees, particularly in Eastern Germany, has grown. In several instances, Germans have lit refugee camps on fire or attacked refugees during protests.