A video has gone viral on social media of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a high school gymnasium bringing a teenage Palestinian refugee to tears after telling her that she is not welcome in Germany. What comes next is cringe inducing. Merkel tries to “hug” the teen named Reem Sahwil, 14, then settles on awkwardly stroking her arm. Thus, the hashtag #merkelstreichelt (Merkel strokes) along with images mocking the petting chancellor ensued.
The Guardian subtitled the video into English, which was filmed today at an event entitled, the “Good life in Germany” at a school in Rostock, Germany. Reem is one of many children at the forum and explained to Merkel that her family is facing deportation. They arrived in Germany from a Lebanese refugee camp four years ago, reported The Guardian.
“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,” Reem told the chancellor. In response 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.”
To this, the young Reem burst into tears. A classmates consoled her. Merkel carried on with her talk. Then noticing the crying girl she approached, “Oh come here.You did so well,” she said gesturing for Reem.
“I don’t think it’s about doing it well, Mrs. Chancellor, but about this being a very wearing situation for her,” added a moderator.
Merkel snapped back. “I know this is a very wearing situation, but I just want to give her a hug now,” the chancellor said, turning again to Reem—now patting her arm, “because we don’t want to put you into such a situation, because this is hard for you.”
The clip ends with a tearful Reem, being caressed by Merkel who had just vowed that “some” of the refugees in Germany, “will have to go back,” according to an extended version of the clip aired on the German network NDR.