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Although I, a civil engineer from Syria, find it easier as well as more pleasant to write about love and relations between humans, here it's supposed to be about the law. Most refugees – like myself – come from countries where the law is either not applied or only pro forma. Once in Germany, they are confronted with a great discrepancy between their former and current lives: They stumble upon a reality in which everything is regulated by law, starting with the simple, everyday things all the way to intellectual property. Here, for the first time, they experience that life in a state based on the rule of law is associated with rights and obligations.

Yes, one can say it loud and clear: Germany is a country based on the rule of law. All those wishing to live in Germany must understand and respect this fact. And they must learn that this is to their advantage. That also means making it comprehensible to the new arrivals that one can only enjoy the rights if one also fulfills the obligations.

It's reassuring to know that legal amendments in Germany must first go through several hearings, debates, reviews and consultations before they are finally adopted. In our countries, these kinds of things happen in expedited proceedings. There, an order from the ruler is enough. In Syria, nothing less than our constitution was changed in the span of just a few minutes in order to install the desired president. He was just 34 years old, even though the constitution stipulated a minimum age of 40. Going about it that way was shameful and ridiculous at the same time.

Given these circumstances, it would make sense to look for suitable ways to explain the meaning of German laws and their application to the refugees. It must be made clear to them that the law here is not just worthless paper: All here are equal before the law, and whoever does not abide by the laws can be legally prosecuted. For the refugees, this is uncharted territory. To give them a feel for a life ruled by laws, as there is in Germany, linguistic barriers must be overcome. For starters, one could draft an information brochure in the individual mother tongues with the help of translators and the refugees themselves.

Since I respect the German state based on the rule of law, I have one wish from it. I wish that it would revise part of its asylum legislation. Here, I'm not thinking about the refugees who have come for solely economic reasons; instead, I'm thinking about those who have come out of a desire to escape war. A simpler process of recognizing credentials and drivers' licenses, as well as the swift issuance of work permits, would play a crucial role in helping refugees settle in here in Germany.

Whenever someone asks me whether I would return to Syria should the war there come to an end, it makes me pensive: Like most of the Syrian refugees, I fled from death, and my residency status only permits me to remain in Germany on humanitarian grounds until the situation in Syria calms down. However, this robs me of any incentive to start a new life here. Why am I not granted a right to remain, which would enable me to provide for my family and myself as well as make our integration into German society easier?

I would like to be in a position to give back to Germans something of what they have given me – as it is customary in my culture. Germans have given us what our Arab brothers have denied us. If I could, I would personally thank every German who has carried welcoming banners, offered assistance or simply shown a friendly smile. Germans have proved themselves an example for the entire world. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

I hope that I will become part of society here and that I can do my part for it, just as I also did in Syria before. Then I'll be able to say: Germany is my second homeland.

Translation: Mustafa Al-Slaiman and Josh Ward