Syrian refugee becomes mayor of German village

About 1.2% of mayors in Germany come from migrant backgrounds

Ryyan Alshebl came to Germany as a refugee from Syria. Reuters
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Ryyan Alshebl has become the first Syrian refugee arriving between 2015-2016 to be elected as a mayor in Germany.

The 29-year-old will take over as mayor of the south-western German village of Ostelsheim.

Mr Alshebl arrived in Germany in 2015 after fleeing conflict in Syria and settled in the region of Baden-Wurttemberg, working for seven years in the town hall in Althengstett.

He stood as an independent candidate in Sunday’s elections, using his campaign as a platform to improve access to digital services. He went on to win an outright majority, with 55.4 per cent of the vote.

Mr Alshebl said the village has “set an example for broad-mindedness and cosmopolitanism for the whole of Germany”, and described his win as “sensational”.

Originally from As-Suwayda in south-western Syria, Mr Alshebl was forced to abandon his studies in finance and banking because of the war. He is a non-practising member of the Druze faith.

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At least 430,000 Syrian refugees applied for asylum in Germany between 2015 and 2016 and Mr Alshebl is thought to be the first of that group to be elected to office.

Only 1.2 per cent of Germany’s mayors come from a migrant background despite them making up 27 per cent of the country’s total population, according to Mediendienst Integration.

Frankfurt’s Mayor Mike Josef is the most high-profile German politician from Syria.

He was born in Qamishli in 1983 and fled with his family shortly afterwards as a political refugee.

Updated: April 04, 2023, 6:19 AM

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