Far-Right German Politician Stabbed as Elections Approach

A member of Germany’s anti-mass migration Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party has been stabbed. Heinrich Koch, a local council candidate, sustained ear and stomach injuries in the assault, which occurred in Mannheim when Mr. Koch tried to prevent three people from tearing down an AfD campaign poster. Police have arrested one of the suspects, but two remain on the run. Mr. Koch was hospitalized but is expected to recover. 

AfD state chairman Markus Frohnmaier said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the violent assault, which happened just one day after a police officer died at the hands of an Afghan migrant during a political rally in the same city. 

The 29-year-old police officer, identified only as Rouven L., died after he was attacked with a knife while policing an anti-Islam demonstration in a market square in the center of Mannheim. The suspect is a 25-year-old Afghan who migrated to Germany in 2014, and the attack has highlighted growing discomfort about Islamic migration into Europe’s richest country. 

A video of the assault was posted online and showed the Afghan waving his knife wildly as an audience gathered to hear a speech from anti-Islam activist Michael Stürzenberger. Five people sustained injuries, including Mr. Stürzenberger, who was stabbed several times. Police rushed to the scene, and immigrant Sulaiman Ataee lunged at Rouven L., driving a hunting knife into the back of his neck, before being shot by fellow officers. 

AfD’s co-leaders, Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel, fiercely condemned the assault and called for a “fortress Europe” and the repatriation of Afghans. Recent polls show that growing numbers of Germans agree and have turned against previous open border policies. A recent survey by German media found that 64% think migration has damaged Germany, compared to just 27% who believe the opposite. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the issue in the Bundestag on June 6 and said “radical Islam” sought to rob Germany of its freedoms. He added, however, that “immigrants are part of our society.”