A Syrian refugee living in Germany has won admiration and praise after he returned 50,000 euros ($55,000) in cash and bank documents that gave him access to a savings account holding about $100,000 euros (about $110,000). He found the cash and documents hidden way inside a piece of furniture he obtained through German charities.
He said he returned the money because as a good Muslim, “Allah would never allow me to finance my own interests with someone else’s wealth.”
“I am a Muslim. My religion forbids it. Allah would never allow me to finance my own interests with someone else’s wealth.”
The 25-year-old Syrian refugee, identified in German media reports only as Muhannad M., lives in the German city of Minden, located in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Muhannad is a communications studies student, who fled his native city of Homs in civil war-ravaged Syria and entered Germany as a refugee in October 2015.
The rest of his family remains stranded in Syria.
He reportedly obtained the piece of used furniture, a wardrobe, through a German charity group. He took it to his apartment in Minden and while cleaning the wardrobe he discovered about 50,000 euros — $55,000 in cash — and a document containing bank savings account information that gave him access to an account with a cash balance of about 100,000 euros ($110,000).
“They were all new 500-euro notes. I thought it was fake money.”
He found the cash — 500-euro bank notes — and bank passbook stashed away inside a hidden compartment beneath a shelf, according to a media release by the Minden Police.
His first thought was that the cash might be counterfeit notes.
“They were all new 500-euro notes. I thought it was fake money,” he told the German national newspaper Bild.
After researching online about how to distinguish genuine euro notes from fake ones, he concluded that they were real bank notes.
Bild reports that despite the fact that the money was enough to pay to get his younger brothers out of war-ravaged Syria and begin a new life in Germany, the young man immediately contacted the immigration authorities and returned the money and documents.
The immigration authorities informed the police.
“This young man has acted in an exemplary way and deserves great respect.”
When asked how he was able to resist the temptation to keep the money, the young man said that he was a Muslim and that his religion did not allow him to the keep it.
“I am a Muslim,” the German Bild newspaper reports he said. “I’m not allowed to keep this money. My religion forbids it. Allah would never allow me to finance my own interests with someone else’s wealth.”
Minden Police praised the young man in its official release, describing him as a “hero” and saying that his action was “exemplary.”
“This young man has acted in an exemplary way and deserves great respect,” The Local reports a police spokesperson said. “It sometimes happens that smaller amounts of money are handed in. But this kind of money is the absolute exception.”
According to The Local, he will receive as reward, 3 percent of the total amount of money he found, about $4,500.
Meanwhile, police said they were trying to track down the former owner of the old furniture.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011, with popular protests nationwide against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The government responded violently and what started as civil mass protests escalated into a full-scale armed rebellion involving Sunni rebels fighting against the predominately Alawite government backed by Shia groups.
The scale of the fighting has increased with foreign intervention and hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost.
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