Your reservations do not help me

Kefah Ali Deeb came to Berlin in 2014 and spent six years writing a taz column about her old home country Syria and her new home Berlin. In this article she reflects on her experiences as a person who had to flee to Germany because of political persecution and criticizes Germany’s increasingly restrictive asylum policy.

“The BAMF 11Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (editor’s note). postpones asylum decisions for Syrians. Among Syrian refugees in Germany, this news causes anger and resentment.

Call on your government to put an end to the abuse of the refugee issue!

A few days ago the news went around in some districts of Berlin that Syrians were being called upon to return to Syria because their country needed them: the war was over, security and stability had been restored.

The BAMF has been postponing asylum decisions for Syrians for several weeks, according to a media report by the Funke Media Group. According to the report, the background is that the BAMF is reassessing the security situation in Syria. Almost parallel to this, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung published a study showing that every second person in Germany expresses reservations about asylum seekers.
The news caused anger and resentment among Syrians in Germany, especially among those who left Syria not because of the war or ISIS, but because they were politically persecuted. These people had left their whole lives behind and had fled for fear of being arrested, deported, tortured or even killed in the prisons.

I am one of these people. I never planned to leave Syria or come to Germany. I am only here because I had no other choice. After four years I love this country as if I had always lived here. I always try to bring Germans and Syrians closer and to get to know each other better. I live in the hope that I and other Syrian refugees will get a real chance to return to Syria. But the fact that the war is now almost over does not mean that the dictatorship is over and democracy is established.

Hatred against refugees

The country needs a political change that leads to a democratic government that respects and guarantees freedom, civil rights and freedom of expression; a system that does not persecute students, intellectuals, scientists, journalists and doctors simply because they think differently.

Yes, I will return to my homeland because it needs me. But if I am arrested at the border, I will not serve anyone.

Ask your government to guarantee my safety, and I will return! I will even persuade others to do the same.

Stop stirring up hatred against refugees. It does no one any good, quite the contrary. It deepens the rift between you and them. Do not decide for dictatorship. Call on your government and the governments of the world to put an end to the abuse of the refugee issue. You are especially called upon today to stand up for democracy, freedom and human dignity.”

    Footnotes

  • 1Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (editor’s note).

Kefah Ali Deeb (*1982) is a visual artist and author of children’s books and magazines from Syria. She fled to Berlin in 2014 and wrote about her old home Syria and her new home Berlin in the taz column “Neighbors” for over six years. She is editor of Handbook Germany, an information portal by and for refugees. She also publishes in other German magazines such as ZEIT online and 51 °. As an activist, Kefah Ali Deeb is a member of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change in Syria. She gives guided tours of the Berlin Pergamon Museum through the Multaka project.

The starting point for Kefah Ali Deep’s article “Your reservations do not help me” was the news from spring 2019, which showed that the BAMF (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) postponed decisions on asylum applications by Syrians because it reassessed the security situation in the country. As a result of the war that has been going on in Syria since 2011 and the persecution, imprisonment and torture of opponents of the Asad regime, Syrian refugees were and are considered to be asylum seekers with “high prospects to remain“. Syrian women who cannot prove personal political persecution are also granted subsidiary protection. However, this comprehensive protection, which includes a ban on deportation, has been increasingly questioned by some actors in German politics and society in recent years. Demands for a softening of the deportation stop have been strongly condemned by human rights organizations such as Pro Asyl or Adopt a Revolution, because ending the war in favor of the Asad regime in large parts of the country does not in any way mean an end to the threatening situation of persecution.

Kefah Ali Deep, who was politically persecuted even in Syria, also criticizes these tendencies in German asylum policy and public opinion. She emphasizes that she left her country involuntarily and would naturally return if she had the chance. But since the power of the regime that persecutes/d her does not end with the war, a return would mean too great a risk for her and other politically persecuted people: “Yes, I will return to my homeland because it needs me. But if I am arrested at the border, I serve no one”.

She calls on the readers and the non refugee German community not to spread hatred against refugees and to call on their governments to stop abusing the refugee issue.

This article is published here with the kind permission of Kefah Ali Deeb.

The first publication appeared in German (“Eure Vorbehalte helfen mir nicht”) on Mai 06, 2019 in the taz column “Neighbours” (“Nachbarn”): https://taz.de/Kolumne-Nachbarn/!5592535/ (26.08.2020) (26.08.2020).

Translation from Arabic to German by Mustafa Al-Slaiman.
Translation from German to English © Minor Kontor.

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