German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has had a tough few days when it comes to her public image. On July 15, she stated she does not support gay marriage and believes the union should only remain for men and women. This led to a barrage of criticism towards her and her leadership style. On July 17, Merkel unintentionally made a young girl cry on national television when she told her she could no longer stay in Germany.
Merkel was attending an event at a high school gymnasium where she got into a conversation with a teenage Palestinian refugee. The young girl, Reem Sahwil, spoke about how her family is facing deportation. She is one of the many children that arrived in Germany from a Lebanese refugee camp four years ago.
" I have goals like anyone else. I want to study like them… it’s very unpleasant to see how others can enjoy life, and I can’t myself," Sahwil told the chancellor. To which an unmoved Merkel said, " I understand what you are saying, nonetheless politics is hard sometimes. There are thousands and thousands more in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. And if we say ‘you can all come here,’ ‘you can all come over from Africa,’ we can’t cope with that."
Upon hearing this, the young girl burst into tears. Unfortunately for Merkel, she did not notice straight away and continued on with her talk. When she finally noticed she tried to console the girl saying, " Oh come here. You did so well."
A moderator at the event, noticing the girl crying, said, " I don’t think it’s about doing it well, Mrs. Chancellor, but about this being a very weary situation for her".
Merkel was not impressed and snapped back at him quite abruptly, " I know this is a very weary situation, but I just want to give her a hug now".
The video of the event has gone viral, especially the part of Merkel attempting to hug the young girl but only managing to stroke her arm. This unfortunate event quickly turned into a trend on Twitter with the hashtag, #merkelstreichelt (Merkel strokes) along with images mocking the chancellor.
Watch the video here
In one way, everything Merkel said was true. Germany accepts some of the largest number of refugees in the world which, eventually, strains the government. However, at the same time, telling a 14-year-old she has no place in a country that has offered her safety and stability, is a bit much.
The harsh reality is that there are millions of refugees from around the world and it would be near impossible to accommodate them all. Until a solution is found in the State in which they belong, they will remain refugees.