2024 Election

A German Town Elects Syrian Refugee As It’s Mayor


A 29-year-old Syrian refugee was recently elected mayor of a small town in southwest Germany, years after fleeing his home country to avoid conscription, NBC News reports.

Ryyan Alshebl was elected mayor in the small German town of Ostelheim, home to a population of just 2,500 residents. Alshebl has been in the country just eight years but won the election in early April 2023, pulling in a total of 55.4% of the vote against two other candidates.

Alshebl said many of his supporters are families who have lived in the region for generations and voted for him based purely on his platform. His campaign was reportedly focused on social cohesion and municipal infrastructure policy. He visitied over 200 homes on the campaign trail.

“Those who voted for me are Germans, Swabians, people who have always lived here,” he said. “The majority voted for the one with the better concept. And this reveals that democracy really works. I can hardly imagine stronger proof that democracy works.”

 

 

 

The Syrian says he fled his home in 2015 to avoid military service, traversing illegally through several countries until landing in Germany.

“Either I had to do military service and thus be forced to be exploited by a warring party in the war or leave the country and surrender to an uncertain fate,” Alshebl said. “I gave myself up to this fate unconditionally and set off on the escape route,” he continued.

“I definitely could not serve for Assad regime,” the new mayor added. After crossing the border into Lebanon, he continued through Turkey before embarking on a perilous boating expedition to the Greek island of Lesbos.

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After traveling through the Balkans, he made his way to Germany to benefit from a 2015 German stance that was referred to an “open-arms policy” on refugees. German leaders welcomed 1 million refugees, which would eventually strain the nation, even causing a startling rise in sexual assaults.

After arriving, the refugee said that an apprenticeship in city administration set off his interests in politics. His supervisor at the town hall inspired him to run for office.

However, the new mayor said he isn’t centered on being a refugee supporter or role model, but rather hopes to support the town.

 

“I want to support Ostelsheim,” he said. “The realization that I could also be an example or role model for someone else is, of course, also gratifying. There’s justifiable pride there. But my job is mainly to move Ostelsheim forward. I am not planning to become a supporter for other refugees. I’m the mayor, not a refugee commissioner,” he explained.

The state’s integration minister encouraged the town’s move, saying he hoped the election would inspire “more people with a migration history to run for political office.”

The previous mayor, Jürgen Fuchs, failed to run for re-election according to Deutschland.de, but said that the “local people voted according to the candidates’ qualifications.”

 

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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

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