The Afghan minister who became a bicycle courier in Germany


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© Reuters. Former Afghan Communication Minister Sayed Sadaat passes a woman with a stroller as he works for the food delivery service Lieferando on bicycle in Leipzig, Germany, August 26, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

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(Refiles to fix spelling of name in paragraph 7)

By Leon Malherbe and Riham Alkousaa

LEIPZIG, Germany (Reuters) – Sayed Sadaat used to be communications minister in the Afghan government before moving to Germany last September in the hope of a better future. Now he is a delivery man in the eastern city of Leipzig.

He said some at home criticised him for taking such a job after having served in the government for two years, leaving office in 2018. But for him now, a job is a job.

“I have nothing to feel guilty about,” the 49-year-old said, standing in his orange uniform next to his bike.

“I hope other politicians also follow the same path, working with the public rather than just hiding.”

His story has gained particular prominence with the chaos unfolding at home after the Taliban takeover. Family and friends of his also want to leave – hoping joining the thousands of others on evacuation flights or trying to find other routes out.

With the withdrawal of U.S. troops on the horizon, the number of Afghan asylum seekers in Germany has risen since the beginning of the year, jumping by more than 130%, data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees showed.

But even with his background, Sadaat struggled to find a job in Germany that matched his experience. With degrees in IT and telecom, Sadaat had hoped to find work in a related field. But with no German, his chances were slim.

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“The language is the most important part,” said Sadaat, who also holds British citizenship.

Every day he does four hours of German at a language school before starting a six-hour evening shift delivering meals for Lieferando, where he started this summer.

“The first few days were exciting but difficult,” he said, describing the challenge of learning to cycle in the city traffic.

“The more you go out and the more you see people, the more you learn,” he said.

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