A Senegal-born chemist has become Germany’s first black federal lawmaker, and a woman of Turkish origin has become the first Muslim elected to Parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party, officials said Monday.
Although nearly one in five of Germany’s 80 million people are immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants, relatively few have made it into the federal legislature. Until now there were no black lawmakers in Parliament, despite more than 500,000 people of recent African origin believed to be living in Germany.
“My election into the German Parliament is of historical importance,” said Karamba Diaby, 51, who moved to the city of Halle in 1986 after receiving a scholarship to study in communist East Germany.
Diaby, who gained German citizenship in 2001, said his priority would be to promote equal opportunities in education. “Every child born in Germany should have the chance to be successful in school regardless of their social background or the income of their parents,” he said.
More than a dozen first- or second-generation immigrants were elected to the 630-member lower house in Sunday’s vote. Most were with the Social Democratic Party, which Diaby represents, the environmentalist Green Party or the Left Party.
But Merkel’s conservative bloc, which won the election with 41.5 percent of the vote, now counts a Muslim lawmaker among its ranks.
Cemile Giousouf was elected in the western town of Hagen. The 35-year-old was born in Germany to Turkish immigrant parents.