Ryyan Alshebl, a former refugee from Syria, assumed his new work as the mayor of a small German town after a significant election triumph.
The EU’s top representative to Syria pointed out that the election “symbolizes the integration of millions of Syrian refugees” in Europe.
Among nearly 900,000 people who arrived during the 2015 refugee crisis, Alshebl is believed to be Germany’s first mayor.
Back then, he fled Syria’s civil war through Turkey and Greece and was housed in refugee accommodation in Germany.
Eight years on, he convinced the people of Ostelsheim, a town with a population of 2,700 in southwestern Germany, to elect him as mayor.
He has also taken up German citizenship like those who arrived in 2015. Syrians can complete the eight-year waiting period or get a passport early by excelling in integration courses.
Syrian refugees “already are a bridge over the Mediterranean between Europe and their homeland”, the EU’s chargé d’affaires Dan Stoenescu said on Monday, as he saluted Alshebl’s election.
“They will be at the forefront of bringing much-needed positive change.”