Syrian refugee sworn in as mayor of German town

Alshebl, who fled the war in Syria eight years ago, has officially taken the seat on Friday after being elected in April.

Syrian born Ryyan Alshebl, who has been elected as a mayor of German town
Syrian-born Ryyan Alshebl walks on a street in Germany's Ostelsheim town [File: Lukas Barth/Reuters]

A refugee from war-torn Syria has made history after he was sworn in as mayor of a German town.

Ryyan Alshebl took the oath as mayor of Ostelsheim, a town 30km (18.6 miles) from the city of Stuttgart, in a solemn municipal council meeting on Friday evening.

The 29-year-old fled the war in Syria eight years ago.

In April, the citizens of the Swabian community of 2,500 inhabitants elected Alshebl as the new head of the town hall with an absolute majority of 55.4 percent.

The Young Mayors Network in Germany said it was unaware of any other refugee who had come to Germany and become the mayor of a German municipality.

There has been no other applicant with Syrian heritage for a mayor’s office in the southeastern German state, according to the municipal association of Baden-Wurttemberg.

“It’s a liberal country. Whoever is ready to do something here can get the opportunity to do so,” Alshebl had told the Reuters news agency in April.

Travelled across Mediterranean

Alshebl, who arrived in Germany aged 21 with a group of friends, was one of hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled Syria when then-chancellor Angela Merkel opened the country’s borders in 2015.

According to the state-run Deutsche Welle (DW) news agency, the new mayor travelled across the Mediterranean at the time before ending up in Germany.

After learning German, Alshebl did an internship at the Althengstett town hall near Ostelheim where he had his first inside look at how public institutions work.

“I asked the mayor whether I could do vocational training here. I made an application and interviews and I got accepted,” said Alshebl, who studied financing and banking in Syria.

“In the first year of my training, I knew that I would do this but the question was when,” he said.

After receiving his German citizenship, Alshebl had been working for the local council in the nearby town of Althengstett before he was elected mayor, DW reported.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies