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Germany

Syrians in Germany concerned about strife-torn homeland

Many of the 32,000 Syrians living in Germany are glued to their TV sets these days. Some wonder why western countries have not done more to help in Syria, and have even contemplated going to take part in the revolution.

Mohammed Al-Hassan is glued to his computer and TV screens as he follows coverage of the fighting in his home country. The Syrian, who is in his late 70s, sits on a modern office stool in a Berlin high-rise, far removed from the danger in his homeland.

It's a strange contrast: Outside his window, Al-Hassan sees orderly Germany, but on his computer and television screens, he views shaky images of war in Syria.

"The Free Syrian Army has launched an attack on the small airport in Minakh, which is about 10 kilometers from Azaz, a region I know like the back of my hand," says Al-Hassan. "I've often walked from Akhtarin to Azaz. I know all the villages I see in the news."

Fear for family

Al-Hassan, a former proof reader and translator, has lived in Germany for more than 30 years. Over the past few months, he has become preoccupied with his homeland - just like thousands of other Syrians living in Germany.

Their views of the power struggle may differ, but most closely follow news about the Syrian civil war on Arabic television stations. They also try to stay in touch with friends and relatives by telephone or Skype. Yet such efforts give them little reassurance.

"There's lots of fear and hopelessness," says Al-Hassan. "No one knows what to do or where to go. There's a shortage of everything - food, electricity and water. Life has become very difficult."

Al-Hassan has two sisters along with nieces and nephews in Aleppo, where fighting has intensified in recent days. He takes a look at his computer screen. No one is online at the moment, but someone might be later. Al-Hassan warily recounts that so far, nothing has happened to his family in Aleppo.

"They don't participate in any of the demonstrations or the armed struggles," he says. "They're pacifists. I'm concerned not just about my relatives, but the whole nation. I hope this mess will soon end with the disappearance of the criminal regime" of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Anger at international inaction

Mustafa Gumrok is a stocky Syrian-German who earns his living in Berlin as an automation technology engineer. For him, worry has turned into rage. He doesn't understand why western countries are not doing more to help people in Syria. Gumrok struggles to explain this lack of intervention to his relatives.

Muhamed Al-Hassan, Autor: Heiner Kiesel (DW)

Al-Hassan wishes for calm to return to his native country

"We Syrians don't understand how the entire world can watch Soviet-built MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighter jets fly over regions shooting and bombing indiscriminately," he says, "while no government in the world intervenes. This needs to be stopped. I'm amazed at how the world community can watch so calmly."

Gumrok believes in the Syrian rebels' aims of freedom and democracy. He tries to show his support by organizing demonstrations and discussion events. While the effort takes a good deal of time and energy, he still wonders whether he's doing enough.

"You can talk about revolution and debate the issue peacefully here," Gumrock says, adding he often thinks he should be in Syria taking part in the revolution.

Still, Gumrok is quick to point out he has a family, a job and a normal life that he cherishes - just like many of the other Syrians in Germany.

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