International at Leipzig University

From war zones to German newsrooms – Syrian journalists report on Leipzig

Tarek Khello im Studio von Mephisto 97.6In the conflict zone of Aleppo they reported on attacks and destruction – nowadays the journalists Tarek Khello, Ebraheem Alisa Algasam and Mohamed al Khatib investigate in Leipzig.

When Tarek Khello arrived in Germany in December 2013, having escaped from a war zone in Syria he couldn’t speak a single word of German. “Language is my tool”, he said, when describing the experience, “I’d lost it.”

Now, eighteen months later, Khello conducts interviews for the local radio station Mephisto 97.6 in Leipzig. He asks his questions in German – and helps his colleagues in the editorial department with their investigations into the ‘refugee situation’ in Leipzig.

Everyone knows, language means access – to people, to information, to topics.

Lack of language skills or bureaucratic obstacles are not, however, the only hurdles for refugee journalists on their path into German newsrooms.”The media works differently here,” Khello has noticed. Freedom of Information laws, newsdesk, and networks – he wants to learn more about the German media landscape.

For this reason he and other Arabic journalists decided to participate on a project organised by the EIJC: This summer they attended a seminar designed by EIJC Academic Director Dr. Lutz Mükke and Radio and TV journalist Ulrike Werner (MDR) – which features in the M.A. Programme “Radio broadcasting” at the University of Leipzig.

The Syrian journalists worked with Journalism students, not only learning the basics of the media world in Germany but also conducting their own journalistic research. The Syrian journalists reported on their experiences of being a journalist in war zones, discussing, for example, the risks, problems and limitations reporters face, as well as their particular responsibility to their audience.

Intensive Diskussionen zwischen deutschen Studierenden und arabischen Journalisten, ermöglicht durch ehrenamtliche Dolmetscher

Animated discussion between German students and Arabic journalists facilitated by volunteer interpreters(Foto: EIJK)


With a team of German students Khello produced a report on refugee accommodation, for the local radio Mephisto 97,6;Ebraheem Alisa Algasam was an important interview partner. Another report by Mohamed al Khatib will soon feature in a local magazine.

Khello now has one goal in mind: he wants to work in media. Despite all problems and hurdles he hopes to continue his profession in Germany. After all, as he points out, the topic ‘war in Syria’ has arrived in Germany – journalists like him with a particular language knowledge and perspective could help to improve the German reporting of such topics.

The report online |

>>> „Where the human dignity comes to an end”


by Carlotta Jacobi, Pauline Bombeck, Elisa Marie Rinne and Tarek Khello, Mephisto 97,6, 02.08.2015