Welcoming refugees may have ushered in Merkel’s final act

In this Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 file photo German Chancellor and party chairwoman Angela Merkel waves during the party convention of the Christian Democratic Union CDU in Berlin, Germany. (AP)
Updated 06 December 2018
0

Welcoming refugees may have ushered in Merkel’s final act

  • Opening Germany’s doors to more than a million refugees may come to define Chancellor Angela Merkel’s legacy
  • Syrians and Iraqis fleeing conflict in the Middle East dubbed the chancellor “Mama Merkel”

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.


Indian forces kills 5 insurgents, 12-year-old boy in Kashmir

Updated 46 min 49 sec ago
0

Indian forces kills 5 insurgents, 12-year-old boy in Kashmir

  • The bodies were found after an exchange of gunfire that started in northern Bandipora district Thursda
  • Insurgents have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan since 1989

SRINAGAR, India: Indian security forces say they have killed five militants and one civilian in gunbattles in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.
Army spokesman Rajesh Kalia says security forces have found the bodies of two insurgents and a 12-year-old boy after an exchange of gunfire that started in northern Bandipora district Thursday.
Two insurgents were killed in western Baramulla district and another in southern Shopian area separately during cordon and search operations by security forces, Kalia and police said Friday.
A grenade attack by insurgents wounded three police officers in Sopore area Thursday, police said.
Insurgents have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan since 1989. India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the region in its entirety.