Syrian refugee takes office as mayor of German town


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

Alshebl, aged 29, was elected as the head of the town hall with an absolute majority of 55.4 percent in April. The Swabian community, consisting of 2,500 residents, made this groundbreaking decision. The Young Mayors Network in Germany has confirmed that they are not aware of any other refugee who has become a mayor of a German municipality. Additionally, there have been no other applicants of Syrian heritage for a mayor’s office in the southeastern German state, as reported by the municipal association of Baden-Wurttemberg.

Alshebl’s journey to this milestone began when he arrived in Germany at the age of 21, alongside a group of friends, after escaping the war in Syria. At that time, then-Chancellor Angela Merkel had opened the country’s borders in 2015, leading to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees. Alshebl, like many others, crossed the Mediterranean before eventually finding his way to Germany.

After learning the German language, Alshebl gained valuable experience through an internship at the Althengstett town hall near Ostelsheim, where he had an inside look at how public institutions functioned. He expressed his interest in pursuing vocational training in the same field, which led to his acceptance after a rigorous application and interview process. Alshebl had studied financing and banking in Syria before his journey to Germany.

“I knew that I wanted to be in this position during my first year of training, but the question was when,” Alshebl said. Following his acquisition of German citizenship, he worked for the local council in the nearby town of Althengstett before achieving his recent election as mayor.

Alshebl’s appointment as mayor reflects the inclusive nature of Germany, with him stating, “It’s a liberal country. Whoever is ready to do something here can get the opportunity to do so,” in an interview with Reuters in April. His remarkable journey from a Syrian refugee to the mayor of a German town serves as an inspiring testament to the possibilities that can be achieved through resilience and determination.

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