Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, is being severely criticised on social media for her total lack of compassion towards a young Palestinian refugee. Some showed her comforting refugees in Iraq, while other poked fun at Merkel’s role in the recent Greece bailout crisis.
“I have goals like everyone else”, she said, adding that she spoke Arabic, English and Swedish, and planned to learn French next.
The incident took place on Wednesday, when Angela Merkel was in Rostock with students of the Paul Friedrich Scheel Support Centre for physically disabled students.
“Politics can be tough”, she said.
The chancellor, who doesn’t exactly have a reputation for warmth or empathy, is being mocked by critics on Twitter under the hashtag #merkelstreichelt, or “Merkel strokes”.
She gets very emotional and Merkel attempts to console her and explain why Germany has to take that stance. “You are an extremely nice person but you also know that there are thousands and thousands of people in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon”, she further adds. Germany could not manage if all wanted to move there, she said.
Whilst the young girl appeared comforted by Ms Merkel’s gentle explanation, the chancelor’s actions have drawn heavy criticism with her described as a “cold ice queen”.
Reem Sahwil told ARD television on Friday that Ms Merkel “listened to me, and she also told me what she thinks about it, and I think that’s OK”.
The host of the event said it wasn’t about “doing well” but about Reem’s “wearying situation”.
“I know it is a stressful situation for her”, the German leader snapped back, “but I’d still like to caress her because we don’t want to bring you in such a situation [that] you have difficulties”. Since she became chancellor a decade ago, the law on immigration and asylum has gradually changed as Merkel’s own center-right Christian Democrats began to accept that Germany needs more immigrants.
With 202,815 asylum seekers and new applicants in 2014, Germany had accepted more than twice the number as any other European Union countries.