A Syrian refugee who arrived in Germany in 2015, has been declared the winner in a mayoral election in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg.
Ryyan Alshebl, who fled his hometown of As Suwayda in Syria eight years ago, ran as an independent in the municipality of Ostelsheim. He won 55.41% of the votes on Sunday, beating two German candidates, Marco Strauss, and Mathias Fey.
Locals cheered the 29-year-old when he welcomed his win, a victory he described as “sensational,” German local broadcaster SWR reported Monday.
“Today, Ostelsheim sent an example for broad-mindedness and cosmopolitanism for the whole of Germany,” he said, according to German public broadcaster ZDF. “That’s not something that can be taken for granted in a conservative, rural area.”
Alshebl’s first call after his victory was to his mother in Syria, who was thrilled with the news, SWR reported.
The Association of Municipalities of Baden-Württemberg said Alshebl is the first man with Syrian roots to run for and win a mayor’s office. He will start his role in June.
The state’s Integration Minister Manne Lucha said that Alshebl’s victory showed that diversity is a natural part of Baden-Württemberg. “I would be very pleased if Ryyan Alshebl’s election encourages more people with a migration history to run for political office,” he said.
His inspiring story isn’t one void of hate and racism. It is one of victory despite the bile thrown at him.