Chancellor Angela Merkel was almost lost for words on Wednesday when a Palestinian girl among a group of schoolchildren she was meeting confronted her about the fact that she and her family were close to being deported from Germany, according to The Local.
“It’s really difficult to see that others are really able to enjoy their lives and you yourself can’t enjoy it with them,” Reem told the Chancellor as she explained that her hopes of studying in Germany would be crushed if she were forced to leave.
The young Palestinian girl added that she’s been studying at the Paul-Friedrich-Scheel school in Rostock for four years and learned fluent German and English – not to mention a little Swedish.
But her family is in limbo as her father – a welder – can’t work on the temporary residency permit they have been issued.
“I have goals like everyone else. [Studying] is really a wish and a goal that I would like to reach,” Reem said.
“I understand, and yet I have to… politics is sometimes hard,” Merkel, visibly caught off-balance in a session that was supposed to focus on “living well in Germany”, blustered in response. “Of course you are an extremely nice person…”
But the Chancellor soon collected herself for the watching television cameras, launching into a defence of German refugee policy to please the crowd at home.
“You know, in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon there are thousands and thousands [of people]. If we now say ‘you can all come,’ and ‘you can all come from Africa,’ and ‘you can all come,’ we just can’t manage that,” she said.
As Reem began to cry shortly afterwards, Merkel stepped forward to stroke her hair, saying, “but you did a great job”.
“I don’t think it’s about doing a good job but the fact that it’s a very difficult situation, Madam Chancellor,” the presenter interjected.
“I know that it’s a difficult situation,” Merkel shot back. “That’s why I want to comfort her, because we don’t want to bring all of you into such situations and because you are having a difficult time, because you’ve shown for a lot of other people what situations you can end up in…”