In the shadow of the nordbrucke, just a good goalkeeper’s tee shot away from bayern kitzingen’s sports home and main playing field, lies the club’s training ground. Here it stands, the lonely cypress. Not an attraction like the famous lone cypress that rises from the middle of a barren rock on the californian coast, but – if you can find it – a symbol, planted this summer by three kitzingen boys. They were advised not to put them anywhere else.
In germany you can’t plant a tree everywhere. So they put him on the club land – and accepted that there, among all the native grasses and bushes, he would look like a foreigner. The heat has taken its toll on the little tree, it looks badly battered – and yet it is supposed to be a reminder and a symbol: for the transplantation of a young man to a location that is foreign and hostile to him, for a policy that raises questions and, from the point of view of the three kitzingen friends, draws the wrong conclusions.
69 refugees with sad fame
This tree, trimmed by two wooden stakes and a hemp rope, is a reminder of one of their former players. Ali akbari did not die, but it is uncertain whether they will see him again. On 3. July, ali akbari was put on a plane and deported to afghanistan – as one of those 69 refugees who made it to dubious fame, brought out of the country on july 69. Birthday of the interior minister horst seehofer .
All christopher lutsch, jan gunther and timo drenkard, the three friends, retained from ali akbari was the memory of a man who was different from what they hear every day in the news and from politicians about refugees. Who was happy and thoughtful at the same time. Who was pondering about his life and what was to become of him one day. This is the story of two of the three people we spoke to.
A lucky charm for the good friend
All that ali akbari took with him on his journey into the unknown was a black jersey, flocked with the white lettering bayern kitzingen, and a talisman that tobias bohm gave him at the last meeting at the police station – as a "lucky charm", as he says.
There was no time for a farewell party. "I got a call from a friend around noon that day," says christopher lutsch. "He said: they took ali this morning at 6 o’clock and brought him to the police station". He is deported."Lutsch immediately set off for the kitzingen police station. He was able to talk to ali akbari for a good half hour, bohm for about an hour. The fact that they were able to see and talk to their buddy at all was probably due to a fortunate circumstance: one of their friends is a police officer.
One of about 10,000 tolerated afghans
The story of ali akbari, it is not an isolated case in germany. The 23-year-old belonged to a group of about 10,000 tolerated afghans in this country. Until recently, tolerated meant that they would not be deported.
The situation in afghanistan, where large parts of the german embassy were destroyed in a suicide attack in may 2017, seemed too dangerous to the foreign office. The bureaucracy was paralyzed, another reason for the moratorium. Only criminals, dangerous people and people who refused to reveal their identity were deported during this period. Ali akbari did not belong to any of the three groups.
Foreign office gains new insight
At the end of may, the foreign office apparently gained a new assessment of the security situation. In a document marked "classified" and quoted by several media outlets, the authors conclude that afghanistan has "made progress in the area of human rights" and that medical care is also constantly improving. The embassy has also gradually resumed its work. Seehofer’s ministry no longer feels bound by the deportation ban, although the conference of interior ministers is also voicing concerns: the risk is still high.
Ali akbari is not the only one to meet the federal government’s stricter line – on that evening, 68 other men are waiting with him in a glassed-in room at munich’s franz josef straub airport to be deported from germany. Arrival in kabul the next morning.
For many it is a flight into the unknown, for ali akbari, who last lived in the innopark asylum center in kitzingen, it is also a flight into an unknown country.
Not only quick on the uptake when learning german
He told his friends that he was born in afghanistan, but his family has lived in iran for a long time. He has often spoken of this moment of loss of control, the fear of being deported and, in this case, of being homeless. Always they tried to take away his fear, and it looked quite good the weeks before. Ali akbari was about to graduate from language school, with a month and a half to go, tells christopher lutsch. At the beginning, he says, they understood each other in "brechdeutsch", but ali learned german relatively quickly, he quickly understood what it was all about – and not just in terms of language.
Ali akbari even had a traineeship in sight – at hans schardt’s construction company. The chairman bayern kitzingen believed in the young afghan, wanted to give him a chance. In the second fubball team of kitzingen in the A class, akbari played as a right or left defender, not a regular player, but always there when he was needed. Not blob in the team, even in the club, as his friends confirm.
If you confront them with the question of the day, the question of whether ali was integrated, they are initially surprised by the question – because it is not a question for them. "Well of course he was integrated."
The bavarian state sets an example
And they are even more surprised that someone like ali, who speaks the language of this country, who is willing to learn, who has a job in sight and wants to earn his own money – who meets all the criteria that this society expects from people like him – that he, of all people, is one of the first on whom the bavarian state is executing its determination. They do not understand that out of the many tolerated afghan asylum seekers in the country, one is apparently arbitrarily picked out and made an example of by the authorities.
At a press conference, seehofer, the minister of the interior and home affairs, names the number of 69 men who are to be deported that day – and links it to his own biography: 69 deportees on his 69th birthday. Birthday. That provokes headlines.
This question will haunt the friends, also because the answers they have received do not sound very plausible to them. They are not naive, they know themselves that germany would be overburdened if it wanted to take in all the refugees and integrate them here – but they would like to see a stronger differentiation that does not make decisions stubbornly according to the files.
Looking more at the people
"It’s not so easy with german politics," says christopher lutsch. "I would wish that the authorities would look more at the people, that they would realize: there are many asylum seekers with good intentions."And tobias bohm says: "people who want to integrate must be weighed up."
In the case of ali akbari, there is also the fact that he is being sent to a country that is not nearly as safe as the german authorities claim, a country that is still torn apart by feuds and enmities, by wars and fights, and will probably never be completely at peace. Several world powers have failed in their attempts to pacify, at least to stabilize it. Ali akbari was transferred to a country where the state or what is left of it cannot guarantee the safety of its citizens.
Police arrive at 6 a.M
On the morning of 3. Around 6 a.M. On july, police officers had taken ali akbari out of his room at the refugee shelter in kitzingen’s innopark and brought him to the police station. There he sits hours later, when tobias bohm and christopher lutsch come to visit him one last time.
In her mind, images of parties and excursions through the city, of funny but also serious moments, run through her mind. "Ali went for a walk at 1 a.M. And thought about his life," says christopher lutsch. "He was one of the best people i have ever met."
The moment in the police station is bizarre and unreal for the two, tortured small talk – what can they say in a barred room under neon lights with several officers nearby?. They are shocked, angry, saddened. And ali? "He didn’t let on," says tobias bohm, "but he was finished."Then you must go. Christopher lutsch says: "you hoped it was going to be good, but you knew it wasn’t going to be good."
Once again contact with ali in kabul
They do not know what will await their friend in the next hours and days, but they are glad to have contact with him once again. Ali akbari contacts after his arrival in kabul via the social network whatsapp. They are deceiving messages.
Akbari initially found shelter with the family of a compatriot whom he apparently met shortly before or during his journey. But in the province of daikondi, where he is hiding, there is war. The friends in germany have collected money for him, about 1000 euro have been collected, transferred by western union. Because of the unrest in the country and especially in the region, he can only pick it up weeks later.
What is ali up to now? Where is he going? These questions drive his friends. The last thing they know: that he is apparently trying to get to his family in iran. How he wanted to do it? They are silent. They would rather not imagine it. But they think of him.
A tree has something lasting
In a nursery in kitzingen, they buy a tree to plant for him. A tree has something permanent, they put it next to the training ground, with "half knowledge" of the club, as they say. Your friend ali does not know about the action.
Whether they will ever see him again? The friends say: "the woman only god."