Germany gets its 1st black members of Parliament

September 23, 2013 - 12:35 PM
Germany Black  Lawmaker

FILE - In this July 25, 2013 file picture , Karamba Diaby, a German Social Democratic Party candidate, smiles during an election campaign in Halle , Germany. The Senegal-born chemist has become the first black lawmaker to be elected to Germany's Parliament. Election authorities in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt said Monday Sept. 23, 2013 that Karamba Diaby won a seat in the lower house for the Social Democrats, Germany's main center-left party. The 51-year-old Diaby moved to the city of Halle in 1986, receiving a scholarship to study in East Germany at a time when communuist rule was slowly unraveling. He gained German citizenship in 2001. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer,File)

BERLIN (AP) — A chemist and an actor — both with family roots in Senegal — have become Germany's first black federal lawmakers, according to official election results released Monday.

They were among 34 lawmakers with immigrant backgrounds to win seats in Sunday's election, up from 21 in the previous term, said the Migration Media Service, a group that provides facts and figures on immigration in Germany.

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, a Senegalese-born chemist who moved to the city of Halle in 1986 after receiving a scholarship to study in communist East Germany.

The 51-year-old, 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.

The other black lawmaker elected Sunday was Charles M. Huber, a 56-year-old actor born in Munich to a Senegalese father and a German mother. Huber is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, which won the election with 41.5 percent of the vote.

Merkel's party also now has its first Muslim lawmaker in the Bundestag. Cemile Giousouf was elected in the western town of Hagen. The 35-year-old was born in Germany to Turkish immigrant parents.

Several lawmakers of Turkish origin have previously been elected to the lower house, but most were with the Social Democratic Party, which Diaby represents, the environmentalist Green Party or the Left Party.

"Measured against the 630 seats in Parliament, some 5.4 percent of deputies now come from immigrant families," the Migration Media Service noted. "In the population as a whole their share is more than three times as high, with about 19 percent."