Syrian refugee makes history as mayor of German town

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A Syrian refugee has been sworn in as the mayor of Ostelsheim, a town located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Stuttgart in Germany. Ryyan Alshebl, a 29-year-old who fled the war-torn Syria eight years ago, took the solemn oath during a municipal council meeting held on Friday evening.

Alshebl’s journey to this historic position began when the citizens of Ostelsheim, a Swabian community with a population of 2,500, elected him as the head of the town hall with an impressive absolute majority of 55.4 percent in April. The Young Mayors Network in Germany expressed astonishment, stating that they were not aware of any other refugee who had arrived in Germany and gone on to become the mayor of a German municipality. The municipal association of Baden-Wurttemberg confirmed that no other applicant of Syrian heritage had applied for a mayoral position in the southeastern German state.

Reflecting on his achievement, Alshebl had previously shared with Reuters, “It’s a liberal country. Whoever is ready to do something here can get the opportunity to do so.” At the age of 21, Alshebl and a group of friends arrived in Germany as part of the wave of refugees escaping Syria when former chancellor Angela Merkel opened the country’s borders in 2015. Deutsche Welle (DW) news agency reported that Alshebl had crossed the Mediterranean Sea before eventually finding his way to Germany.

Determined to integrate and contribute to his new home, Alshebl learned the German language and completed an internship at the Althengstett town hall near Ostelsheim, gaining invaluable insights into the workings of public institutions. “I asked the mayor whether I could do vocational training here. I made an application and interviews, and I got accepted,” Alshebl revealed. He had also pursued studies in financing and banking in Syria.

Alshebl’s aspirations of becoming a mayor started to take shape during his initial year of training. “In the first year of my training, I knew that I would do this, but the question was when,” he shared. After obtaining his German citizenship, Alshebl worked for the local council in the nearby town of Althengstett before his successful election as mayor.

The appointment of Ryyan Alshebl as the mayor of Ostelsheim symbolizes the inclusive opportunities that Germany offers to those willing to make a positive impact. It serves as a remarkable milestone, not only for Alshebl personally but also for the integration of refugees into German society. As Alshebl assumes his mayoral duties, he stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for others seeking to contribute to their adopted communities.

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