Meet the New Mayor: How a Refugee Won Over a Conservative German Town

“This was long the reality in Germany,” Ms. Götz said. “Only now, the public finally became aware that Germany is not the same thing it was before.”

Sipping his coffee, Mr. Alshebl grinned mischievously: “Or, at least, not since the election in Ostelsheim.”

Mr. Alshebl, who officially starts his new job next month, now straddles two worlds — a comfortable one in Germany, and his family’s life in Syria, where they struggle to survive in a country ravaged by 12 years of war.

“Everything OK?” he asked his mother recently, quickly picking up her call in his office.

“We’re all fine — just waiting for the electricity, like always,” she said. Their diverging paths are palpable. Mr. Alshebl throws German words into the conversation, often oblivious to his family’s confusion.

He compares his life to that of Syrian friends who have resettled in cosmopolitan German cities. There, they can create a small community, set up shops to buy familiar foods and speak Arabic together.

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