Germany revokes asylum status of pro-Assad Syrian working for far-right anti-immigration party
The Die Welt newspaper reported that the German Asylum and Immigration Service (BAMF) had decided to cancel Kevork Almassian’s status because he was not under threat of persecution by the Syrian regime, which he has continued to openly support.
Almassian, a Syrian of Armenian origin, began working for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party soon after his arrival in Germany.
The party is very hostile to Muslims in general and Syrian refugees in particular, accusing them of coming to Germany for financial benefit rather than out of fear for their lives.
The party claims Syria is safe enough to deport refugees back to, despite multiple reports by human rights organisations saying that returning to Syria puts many at risk of persecution and death.
Almassian has openly stated that he migrated to Germany for economic reasons, claiming asylum after he failed to turn a business visa into a residence permit.
He has appeared at AfD rallies himself to speak against his fellow Syrians. In one instance, he said that the majority of Syrian refugees in Germany were Islamists and warned that massacres could happen if the German government failed to restrict immigration.
More than one million Syrians have taken refuge in Germany since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
Almassian has also spread disinformation regarding the Syrian regime's victims, saying in a tweet in 2018 that Hamza al-Khatib, a 13-year-old boy savagely tortured to death by Assad’s security forces in 2011 was in the process of "attacking a military post with his jihadi friends".
Despite its anti-refugee policy, the AfD protested the decision to revoke Almassian’s asylum.
However, Syrians in Germany, some of whom petitioned the BAMF to revoke Almassian’s status in 2019, have welcomed the decision.
Mohammed Kazim Al-Hindawi, director of the Arab European Organization for Human Rights, told the Syrian news website SY-24: "We received this decision gratefully, and we were among the first to demand that people such as Almassian be investigated, knowing that Germany, as a state of law, would certainly work to open an investigation into his case.
"This person who supports the regime, not only supported Assad, but acted as a thug (shabih) for the Assad regime, monitoring Syrians and supporting a racist party."
Despite the revocation of his asylum, it is not yet clear whether Almassian will be deported to Syria.