A Syrian refugee who caught public attention by virtue of his altruistic help to Berlin’s poorest has urged people not to fear asylum seekers coming from war zones. He told RT’s Ruptly that people just want to live in peace until war in Syria ends.
Alex Assali, lives life ‘paying it forward’, and continues to cook meals for the homeless in Berlin. Spending a large share of his tiny government stipend is how he says ‘thank you’ to a country that sheltered him from conflict at home.
Assali has decided “to give something back to the German people,” for their help, descending to one of Berlin’s busiest underground stations, Warschauer Strasse, to offer people food. Assali is an IT engineer but he is yet to find a job in the country that he has lived in for over a year.
He survives on the €450 ($477) stipend that he receives from the German government as a refugee. He buys the ingredients with this money and with the help of several volunteers, he cooks and distributes food in the German capital.
“I pay the money from my pocket. I always get from the job centre around €450 and I save €100 ($106) for this project, so every time I pay around, between €20 to €30 ($21-$32) every Saturday. So €350 is enough for me and I can save from it,” Assali told RT’s Ruptly video news agency.
Germany eventually became his home in 2014, after he fled Syria without a passport in 2007, spending years in Libya. As Germany struggles to find spare space for the one million refugees projected to arrive in the country by the end of the year, anti-migrant sentiment is gaining strength across the country.
Migrants arrive in a country with underlying xenophobic feelings, spearheaded by groups such as the anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement. Yet despite growing xenophobia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday once again promised to continue the government’s open-door migrant policy.
The government’s approach has prompted the leader of Germany’s anti-immigrant AfD party to criticize Merkel, calling on the Chancellor to resign. “Merkel, step down. You can do it,” Frauke Petry told her supporters Saturday, as the party called for a reduction in the number of refugees.
Among other measures, the AfD advocates rejecting Syrians and Iraqis and turn down asylum applicants without identification documents. Assali, however, maintains that migrants do not pose any danger and are just looking for a safe haven until they get a chance to return home.
“The people who are against the refugees, should not be scared of them because they are nice people and they just want to live in peace. And after the war in Syria ends, they will go back, I am sure. Because we have a very rich country. We are not poor,” says Alex.