Major operation in Mannheim: knife attack at anti-Islam rally

Major operation in Mannheim: knife attack at anti-Islam rally

In downtown Mannheim, a man attacked several people with a knife. Among those injured was Michael Stürzenberger, a leading figure in the anti-Islam organization Pax Europa.

A man attacked participants of an anti-Islam rally on Mannheim’s market square with a knife and injured six people. A police officer is fighting for his life, said Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU).

According to authorities, the attack was directed against participants of an event organized by the anti-Islam organization Pax Europa. According to the organization’s treasurer, Stefanie Kizina, board member Michael Stürzenberger was also injured.

According to consistent media reports, the attacker is 25-year-old Sulaiman A. from Herat in Afghanistan, who lives in southern Hesse. There was no confirmation of this.

The police shot the attacker and he was injured. The state security department of the Karlsruhe public prosecutor’s office, which is responsible for political crimes, is investigating. Strobl said that nothing could be said about the motivation yet. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) said: “If the investigation reveals an Islamist motive, then that would be further confirmation of the great danger posed by Islamist acts of violence that we have warned about.”

Mayor speaks of terrorist attack

Mannheim’s mayor Christian Specht (CDU) described the knife attack as a terrorist attack. Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of an assassin and condemned the attack, and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also expressed his dismay.

Pax Europa treasurer Stefanie Kizina said the attack was aimed specifically at Stürzenberger, who was injured in the face with a knife. She explained to the “Bild” newspaper: “He was hit in the leg and face and is undergoing emergency surgery. His life is apparently not in danger.” The 59-year-old is one of the leading figures in the association.

On its website, Pax Europa makes no distinction between Islam and Islamism – the organization attributes “aggressive contempt and intolerance” to both, among other things. In its 2022 report on Stürzenberger and the Bavarian regional association of Pax Europa, the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution wrote that there were “actual indications” that they were pursuing “anti-Islamic efforts relevant to the protection of the constitution” “that are aimed at abolishing religious freedom for Muslims.” Stürzenberger and the organization no longer appear in the agency’s most recent report for 2023. According to the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, however, this is only because they are less active. Both Stürzenberger and the Bavarian regional association would continue to be monitored.

Political scientist Stürzenberger, born in 1964 in Bad Kissingen, Bavaria, worked for many years as a journalist for several media outlets. At the end of 2003, he became press spokesman for the CSU in Munich. He later left the CSU and joined the Die Freiheit party in 2011, which was soon identified by the state’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution as an anti-Islamic group. Stürzenberger has appeared several times at events organized by the anti-Islamic Pegida movement in Dresden. He also organized the Bavarian Pegida offshoot Bagida for a time. In Munich, he and his supporters campaigned against the construction of a mosque.

Video on the Internet shows knife attack

Shortly after the attack, a video of the crime circulated on the Internet: It shows a man stabbing several people at the event. Bystanders shout: “Put the knife away.” The video also shows an officer shooting the attacker. Several police officers then pinned the suspect to the ground. According to the police, public prosecutor’s office and the State Criminal Police Office, one shot was fired.

According to investigators, the police officer who was critically injured had intervened and brought an injured person out of the danger area when he was stabbed several times in the head from behind by the perpetrator. The other five injured people are members of Pax Europa.

“It is thanks to the courageous, brave, determined and highly professional intervention of the police that there were no more injuries,” said Strobl. The identity of the perpetrator is still unknown. The Mannheim market square is located in the middle of the city center of the 300,000-inhabitant city in the north of Baden-Württemberg.

Investigators said that no statement could be made about the extent and severity of the injuries of the other victims. Rescue workers took the injured to various hospitals, where some of them underwent emergency surgery. After the incident, the market square was cordoned off with red and white tape. Screens were put up and a nearby tram station was closed. A rescue helicopter was also deployed to treat the injured. Investigators secured evidence.

Attack triggers dismay

Chancellor Scholz was shocked. “The images from Mannheim are terrible,” he wrote on the X platform. “Several people were seriously injured by an attacker. My thoughts are with the victims. Violence is absolutely unacceptable in our democracy. The perpetrator must be severely punished.”

Federal President Steinmeier reacted indignantly. “I condemn the act in Mannheim in the strongest possible terms!”, his spokeswoman Cerstin Gammelin wrote on Steinmeier’s behalf on Platform X. “There must be no room for violence in our democracy – violence destroys democracy. Freedom of expression is a precious asset.” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in Hamburg that anyone who thinks they are doing something for this country by stabbing someone in the body is being insanely violent. Hatred and incitement cannot be tolerated, no matter which direction it comes from.”

Source: Stern

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