A Syrian who fled his country’s conflict in 2015 is running to become an MP in Germany’s general election this September.
Tareq Alaows, 31, is set to run for the Green Party in Oberhausen and Dinslaken, an industrial constituency in the country’s west.
“I want to become the first person who escaped from Syria to enter the Bundestag (Parliament) and lend a political voice to the hundreds of thousands of fugitives who are living with us today,” he said.
Alaows, who is yet to earn his German citizenship, studied law in Damascus and Aleppo, and protested against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime during the conflict. He worked for the Red Crescent and documented the regime’s litany of rights abuses.
Fearing repercussions from the regime, Alaows fled to Dortmund. He arrived on Sept. 4, 2015, soon after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would offer temporary residency to migrants.
He is now a permanent resident and works for a charity in Berlin. Alaows is aiming to receive a German passport in the coming months, which will be required if he is to successfully stand as a candidate in September.
“In the war and during my flight, I had to see for myself what it means to be stripped of your rights,” Alaows said in a video shared on Twitter.
“This is why I will stand up especially for upholding human rights. Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia are my homeland. My political work on a national level began right here in my constituency, Oberhausen and Dinslaken, and so it is here that I want to take a step towards the Bundestag.”
At the last general election in 2017, the Greens finished in fourth place with just 7 percent of the vote.
But Germany’s electoral system of proportional representation means that Alaows could be elected to the Bundestag as one of the Greens’ regional slate candidates.