Tareq Alaows Abandons German Parliament Run Following Racism, Death Threats

Tareq Alaows, a Syrian man who sought asylum in Germany, is ending his candidacy for parliament after facing racism and death threats.

"The high threat level for me but especially for people close to me is the most important reason for withdrawing my candidacy," Alaows said in a statement. "My candidacy showed that in all parties in politics and across society, strong structures are needed to confront racism and help those affected."

According to the Associated Press, Alaows joined the opposition Green Party last year and was running to hold the seat representing constituents in western Germany for the September elections. According to Germany's DW News, Alaows has also withdrawn from the local Green Party to protect his privacy.

"There are many debates about refugees, but no one talks to the refugees themselves."@Tareq_Alaows wants to be the first refugee from Syria to be elected to the German parliament. He plans to run for the Green party in September's elections. pic.twitter.com/yQV3msEGWg

— DW Politics (@dw_politics) February 5, 2021

Alaows told DW News last month that he came to Germany in 2015 to find a "safe and dignified life." After working as a social worker and activist, the Damascus native decided to enter politics to be a political voice for fellow refugees in the Bundestag. He has also applied for German citizenship.

"The great public interest generated by my candidacy shows what we refugees can do," Alaows said in the announcement of his withdrawal. "But unfortunately our society lacks discrimination-free spaces in many areas of life. It's up to all of us to actively deal with that in our surroundings and to change things."

German Parliament
A Syrian man who sought asylum in Germany has ended his candidacy for a seat in the German parliament. In the photo, Chancellor Angela Merkel (standing, in orange) takes questions from parliamentarians at the Bundestag after she announced a reversal of a hard lockdown for Easter on March 24, 2021, in Berlin. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Before fleeing to Germany, Alaows participated in peaceful protests against Syrian President Bashar Assad's government while studying law at the University of Aleppo. He also volunteered for the Red Crescent relief group during the civil war and helped register internally displaced people.

After his arrival in Germany, he soon became active in politics again, protesting for more rights and improved living conditions of asylum-seekers in the country.

Alaows, who is fluent in German and works as a legal counselor for asylum-seekers, said he wanted to give a voice to the country's asylum-seekers in parliament.

His party said there had been anonymous death threats against Alaows' family in Syria if he stuck to his bid for a seat in parliament.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that Alaows' candidacy for the German parliament was the first by a refugee from Syria and said on Twitter "it is depressing for our democracy that this has failed because of threats & racism." Maas, a member of the rival center-left Social Democrats, voiced "solidarity" with Alaows.