After receiving a degree in international relations from the University of Kalamoon near Damascus, Almassian moved to Lebanon to continue his studies in 2010. According to reports, Almassian now plans to apply for a German passport.
Kevork Almassian, who describes himself as a journalist and political commentator, runs the English-language Syriana Analysis YouTube channel, which has more than 27,000 subscribers.
Sputnik has discussed the issue with Joachim Paul, a member of parliament in Rhineland-Palatinate and deputy leader of the AfD in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Sputnik: A lot of media outlets have portrayed it as very surprising that a Syrian refugee has been given a job in your party. What is your attitude toward this?
Joachim Paul: We can see that the AfD is not a racist type of party at all. Especially the state media have an interest to portray AfD as a racist or right-wing party, we are not. Mr Almassian is by far not the only example of a migrant joining the AfD. For example, we have a Kurdish candidate in Brandenburg, she is of Kurdish origin and now she has German citizenship.
In our state Rhineland-Palatinate, we have Attila Sonal, he is the chairman of the party branch in [a] city with about 100,000 people living there; he is a German citizen and he came to Germany from the Turkish minority in Greece. So, you can see that Mr Almassian is not the only example, and it shows that we have a significant number of migrants joining us in our fight for change in Germany.
Sputnik: Indeed. One wonders why this particular case has been causing so much media attention. Could it just be linked to the attitude towards the AfD party and its portrayed image?
Sputnik: In this particular case, Mr Almassian does not hide his support for Syrian President [Bashar] Assad. How has this supported this particular image?
Joachim Paul: We have to say that the rule of Bashar Assad is certainly not a democracy in Westminster style, as we have in Great Britain, Germany and Austria, for example. But on the other hand, we have to say and we have to recognise that minorities, especially the Christian minority, could live there in peace and harmony and by living as Christians, going to churches and things like this. But this is all gone and now we have Islamists, extremists ruling there and they are actually responsible for the civil war we have there. So, Mr Almassian can stick to this opinion, I have no problem with this. I guess we have to change our view [of] the Syrian situation anyway and it can be [an] advisor to our party, and our party is a party that wants to also change the foreign policy.
Sputnik: Can reports and cases like this impact the upcoming elections?
Joachim Paul: Maybe; we shouldn't overestimate the impact on the elections that are coming. We have the European elections in May, in Rhineland-Palatinate we have municipal elections; but on the other hand, migrants in the AfD are becoming more and more visible. And this is a great example that shows that our party is not an extremist party; we are not a racist party. We are a conservative liberal party, and migrants [can] come into Germany on a legal basis.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.