Girl asks Merkel not to deport her family

In a video that has gone viral online, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen listening sympathetically to a tearful Palestinian girl, Reem, who pleads for her family to be allowed to stay in Germany. The girl's plea puts a human face to the dilemma
In a video that has gone viral online, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen listening sympathetically to a tearful Palestinian girl, Reem, who pleads for her family to be allowed to stay in Germany. The girl's plea puts a human face to the dilemma of thousands of immigrants in Europe.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • German Chancellor Angela Merkel's response to a tearful Palestinian girl who pleaded for her family to be allowed to stay in Germany drew both praise and criticism on Thursday, as a video of the incident went viral on the Web.

The video, taken when Dr Merkel was meeting a group of students in Rostock on Wednesday, shows the girl asking to avoid deportation, so that she can pursue her dreams and enjoy the same security as her German friends.

"I'm here now," she says, "but I don't know what my future looks like, as long as I don't really know that I can stay here."

The girl's plea put a human face to the dilemma of tens of thousands of newcomers from Syria and other parts of the Middle East and Africa, who have been pouring into Europe seeking economic opportunities and shelter from strife.

The girl in the video, Reem, spends several minutes calmly telling her story to Dr Merkel in fluent German. Dr Merkel is seen listening sympathetically before explaining to Reem that not everybody can come to Germany and stay there. When Reem starts to cry, Dr Merkel pats her on the shoulder and praises her for speaking articulately about her family's plight.

The video of the encounter provoked criticism of Dr Merkel as hard-hearted but others defended her for being honest.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2015, with the headline 'Girl asks Merkel not to deport her family'. Print Edition | Subscribe