The young Palestinian refugee filmed crying after Angela Merkel told her she could not stop her being deported has defended the German Chancellor.
A clip of their encounter has been watched by millions of people, sparking concern over Germany’s asylum policy and seeing Ms Merkel condemned as cold-hearted and ridiculed over her attempts at comforting the girl.
But 14-year-old Reem Sahwil was not angry with her response.
“She listened to me and then gave her opinion. I'm fine with that,” she said in an interview with German broadcaster ARD today.
Reem confronted the Chancellor at a question-and-answer session on Wednesday, saying that she and her family faced being deported because they had only been granted temporary right of asylum.
“I don't know what my future will be,” Reem said.
“I really want to study in Germany - it is unfair to watch while other people can enjoy life and you can’t enjoy it with them.”
Ms Merkel, who appeared momentarily thrown, told Reem that “sometimes politics is hard” and that exceptions could not be made to government policy.
“You’re a very nice person,” the Chancellor added, before saying that Germany could not take in all the asylum seekers from Lebanon, where Reem’s family lived in a refugee camp until four years ago.
The teenager started crying as Ms Merkel’s defence continued, causing the leader to break off and attempt to soothe the girl by stroking her shoulder.
Reem, who attends a school for disabled pupils in Rostock and needs assistance walking, spoke about her experience on ARD’s Morgenmagazin programme.
“I want to carry on studying after school so I can do something better with my future,” she said.
Reem said she has had “too much experience of war” and wants to stay in Germany, where she is safe and happy, without worrying about having to leave.
The Local reported that Reem’s chances of remaining in Germany are, in fact, very high thanks to a law brought in by Ms Merkel's government in June.
It states that minors who have been in Germany for a period of four years have a right to remain, although that does not automatically extend to their loved ones.Reuse content