YouTube comedian Firas Alshater, aka "Zukar", explains to Germans what it's like to be a refugee in Germany. Refugees find out from him what makes Germans tick. He explained why the reactions to his clips give him hope for a happy and peaceful coexistence between Germans and their newly arrived neighbours in his keynote "What refugees want" at the "re:fugees" sub-conference, hosted by the re:publica together with the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung - bpb).
"What do you like about Germany?" Firas Alshater asked the fans of his YouTube shows. Their answers: German bread, the freedom, and peace. He was a bit surprised about the first answer. German bread looked "like a rock" to him the first time he saw it. Laughter from the audience.
The clips work mainly due to Alshater's humour. His first video, which he uploaded to YouTube under the alias of "Zukar", has already been viewed three million times. Alshater clarifies in his keynote that integration can only work if refugees and Germans talk to each other. But this is exactly what doesn't work so well. "There is a lot of talk ABOUT refugees. Refugees, however, aren't able to speak for themselves." In his opinion, mutual communication cannot properly take place if "refugees are stuck in refugee homes with 400 other refugees."
But Alshater is sure that integration is still going to work. In his talk, he has participants read comments people have left under his video. One viewer apologised (...) that so many Germans had reacted with such hostility to refugees. Another viewer emphasised that his parents and grandparents were German, but that him "and a friend of his, who both vote for the AfD, like his videos."
Alshater's conclusion on the topic of integration: "Germans need more time. But once they've started with something, then they can't be stopped."
Photo credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY 2.0)