World News

Welcoming refugees may have ushered in Merkel’s final act

Welcoming refugees may have ushered in Merkel’s final act

BERLIN: Opening Germany’s doors to more than a million refugees may come to define Chancellor Angela Merkel’s legacy, a landmark moment in her career that sparked a backlash which could hasten her political exit.It was “the decision of her life,” weekly Die Zeit judged recently, ahead of a vote on Friday that will crown a new head of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party Merkel has led since 2000.Late summer 2015 saw hundreds of thousands of refugees attempt to reach Europe in often appalling conditions — prompting Merkel to welcome those who found themselves stuck in Hungary.After completing the journey to the Austrian-German border by coach or train or even on foot, many were welcomed by Germans with bouquets of flowers, food and other supplies.Syrians and Iraqis fleeing conflict in the Middle East dubbed the chancellor “Mama Merkel,” the compassionate European who had offered them shelter — often in requisitioned gym halls or disused barracks.The nickname is “just a joke, it oversimplifies things,” says Rami Rihawi, a 22-year-old Syrian from Aleppo who arrived in Berlin in late 2015, spending seven months living with 300 other people in a gym.“But she will go down in history” for the choices she made back then, he predicted.Rihawi met Merkel in 2017 when she visited a training center for young computer programmers where he was studying, before he was hired as a software developer at a start-up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *