- NDR/Barbara Tasch/Business Insider
The 14-year-old Palestinian girl who cried after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her she might be deported has had her residency permit extended until March 2016, the mayor’s office in the northern city of Rostock said on Friday.
Merkel was criticized in July after she told the girl, identified as Reem, during a televised discussion forum that Germany could not admit everyone who wanted to live there, and then stroked her on her back when Reem started crying.
The video of the exchange went viral and started the hashtag #merkelstreichelt (meaning “Merkel strokes”) with critics accusing her of looking clumsy and lacking empathy.
- Thomson Reuters
Reem, who is from Lebanon, has lived in Germany for four years and had told Merkel in fluent German that she wanted to study there, but that it was uncertain whether she would be allowed to stay.
The mayor’s office in Rostock said Reem and her father on Thursday received a limited residency permit that is valid until March 2016. The office could not immediately clarify what will happen after that date.
It said the rest of the family would not be deported so that they could remain together.
Merkel, who has been criticized for being slow to condemn violent protests against refugees in an east German town last month, saw her approval ratings slip by 4 points to 63 percent over how she has handled the refugee crisis.
Germany, with relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, is the EU’s biggest recipient of people fleeing war in the Middle East and economic migrants from southeastern Europe.
- Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
A record 104,460 asylum seekers entered the country in August, and it expects about 800,000 people to file for asylum this year – four times last year’s level.
The refugee crisis has surged to new heights lately with the number of refugees entering Europe from January to July 2015 exceeding 300,000, and almost daily clashes between migrants and the police in eastern European countries.
The hot spot of the crisis at the moment is in Hungary where authorities are not letting refugees onto trains bound for Germany. Thousands of people have been protesting outside the Budapest train station claiming they had the right to continue their journey.
Meanwhile, Hungarian officials are saying they are doing what they are supposed to, by trying to register the asylum seekers before letting them continue.
Many of the refugees have one precise destination in mind: Germany.
Merkel has announced there would be no cap to the number of Syrian refugees they would accept and that asylum seekers would be able to apply for asylum in Germany instead of being deported back to the first European country through which they entered the union.
In response to those decisions, Syrians have been sending Merkel messages of love. People have, especially on social media been showing their appreciation for what the German chancellor did.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) August 25, 2015
Facebook pages dedicated to Merkel have been created, one entitled “Mama Merkel, Mother of the Outcasts“, where images of Merkel, to which loving slogans were added circulate.
One young refugee from Ghana who made the perilous journey to Europe while heavily pregnant even named her daughter ‘Angela Merkel’. The 26-year-old who lives in a refugee shelter in Hanover with over 700 other asylum seekers said she did it because she is very grateful and likes Merkel.