Sunday, January 26

Germany appoints Muslim woman of Palestinian origin to Foreign Ministry post

Berlin (dpa) - Germany‘s Foreign Ministry is hiring a woman of Palestinian extraction, Sawsan Chebli, 35, as one of its spokespersons, officials in Berlin said Friday.

She will be the first Muslim to act as the public face of the ministry, which is often described as a redoubt of the old German ruling class, many of them with aristocratic surnames. To date, all ministry spokespersons have been career diplomats.

Chebli‘s previous posts were with the Social Democratic Party‘s parliamentary caucus and as an official dealing with ethnic minorities for the state government of Berlin.

She will be a deputy spokesperson under chief spokesman Martin Schaefer. She was appointed by Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the new foreign minister, who is a Social Democrat.

Chebli‘s parents met in Palestinian refugee camp and moved from Lebanon to Berlin in the early 1970s. She was born in Berlin. Initially stateless, she was naturalized as a German citizen at age 15. Her family spoke Arabic at home.

She has a degree in political studies.

Chebli describes herself as a devout Muslim.

"You might not see it from my appearance, as I don‘t wear a head scarf," she told an interviewer. "But I do pray. I do fast. I don‘t eat pork and I don‘t drink alcohol."

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