Masked assailants beat a German lawmaker unconscious with a piece of timber in what police believe was a politically motivated attack that his party is calling an attempt at assassination.
Frank Magnitz, a regional leader of Germany’s highly conservative AfD party, was beaten by three assailants in the northern city of Breman at 5:20 p.m. on Jan. 7, as he left a theater.
The attack follows an explosion targeting an AfD office last week and a spate of vandalism against the anti-immigration party, which represents 12 percent of Germans in the national parliament.
The party’s official social media accounts posted a picture of Magnitz’s bloody, swollen, and bruised face, with a deep gash in his forehead following the attack on Monday afternoon.
Police are investigating the incident, saying in a statement that they are working on the assumption that it was “politically motivated.”
The AfD called it an assassination attempt, blaming anti-fascist activists who they say have been stirred up and emboldened by media and politicians who label them Nazis.
Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the attack and urged police to bring those behind it to justice.
“Political debate must be conducted in such a way that it can not give rise to hatred or aggravation, still less violence,” Wolfgang Schäuble, the speaker of the German parliament said.
Saved by a Builder
Magnitz, 66, has little recollection of the event, according to the Telegraph, telling reporters: “I’m well known in Bremen. I’ll definitely take more care in future.”
According to AfD, Magnitz’s life may have been saved by a builder, who courageously interrupted the attackers as they beat Magnitz, already unconscious, on the ground.
AfD, which became a serious political force in the 2017 general election, campaigned on an anti-immigration, anti-EU, and anti-Islamic platform and is often dubbed “far-right”—a label that its leaders and members reject.
The party was originally founded with an anti-EU platform. The core of the party reject the racist and more extremist groups that later gathered at the fringes of the party and are now splintering off.
The party now has representatives in every German state parliament.
In a statement, AfD spokesperson Alexander Gauland said: “The cowardly and life-threatening violence against Frank Magnitz is the result of the constant agitation by politicians and the media against us, which has now apparently been implemented by left-wing terrorists in Bremen.
“These attacks are fueling a climate of fear and endangering our democracy.
“The authorities also have a duty to ensure the integrity of life and limb of the well-known AfD leaders, so that they can exercise their democratic right to unhindered participation in political decision-making!”
After an explosion targeted an AfD office last week, police in the eastern state of Saxony said that there has been a rise in attacks against the party, and that most incidents were acts of vandalism.
Police detained three suspects linked to the explosion that targeted an AfD office in the city of Doebeln that caused no casualties. The blast set the office on fire and damaged vehicles and nearby buildings, Saxony’s LKA criminal investigation office said.
Reuters contributed to this report.