German Chancellor Angela Merkel was mocked online Thursday over an awkward encounter with a Palestinian girl who sobbed during a televised discussion of the country's policy on asylum.
The hashtag #merkelstreichelt (merkelstrokes) and video clip of Merkel's exchange with the girl went viral. The girl, identified as Reem from Lebanon, has lived in Germany for four years but her family may face deportation.
During a discussion forum in the northern city of Rostock, Reem told Merkel in good German that she wanted to study in Germany. It was unpleasant that she could not share the enjoyment of life experienced by her peers because of uncertainty over whether she will be able to stay, she said.
"I understand," said Merkel. "However ... sometimes politics is hard. When you stand in front of me and you are a very nice person, but you know in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon there are thousands and thousands [of people] and if we say you can all come and you can all come from Africa and you can all come. We can't manage that."
At that point, Reem began to cry.