Tareq Alaows is a Syrian politician, activist and legal advisor living in Germany, and is making his mark as the first Syrian refugee candidate for the German parliament, the Bundestag. Representing the Green Party, he plans to stand as representative of the electoral district of Oberhausen, come the state elections of North-Rhine Westphalia in the spring of 2022.
Alaows, 31, arrived in Germany over five years ago after fleeing Syria in July of 2015. He was a law student in both Aleppo and Damascus prior to fleeing the war-torn country. His engagement with the Red Crescent in Syria meant providing humanitarian aid and documenting human rights abuses. Along with participation in anti-regime protests, Alaows’ activities meant an increasing threat of repercussions by the Assad regime. The decision to flee, via the Mediterranean and the Balkan route, came naturally to Alaows.
Having made it safely to Germany, Alaows was faced with overwhelmed and inefficient bureaucracies and structures to process arrivals. Spending over 6 months in a gym with 60 other individuals in makeshift cells, separated by provisional dividers, inspired Alaows to found a movement advocating for improved treatment of asylum seekers.
The movement, Refugee Strike Bochum, was born of a 17-day protest outside Bochum’s city hall. In the movement’s own words, the protest camp they set up “was an important event, an important action for our work, because on the one hand we achieved many of our political goals and on the other hand we could build up very good contacts to other groups, initiatives, organizations and political parties.”1
Continuing along his path of political engagement, and after teaching himself German with the use of his smartphone, Alaows immersed himself into a role of raising awareness of the struggles of refugees in Germany. Assuming press work and organizing protests, Alaows spent several years advocating for improved living conditions for refugees, while supporting them individually by offering legal advice.
Alaows is now aligning his visions of climate and immigration policy in his candidacy with the center-left Green party. The only thing currently still in his way is yet a further bureaucratic hurdle: Alaows will require German citizenship to become a member of parliament.