Migrant Lives

Happy Ending A Year After Merkel Made A Refugee Girl Cry

When Angela Merkel made a Palestinian refugee cry on German national television
When Angela Merkel made a Palestinian refugee cry on German national television

BERLIN â€" It's been a year since German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a Palestinian refugee teen burst into tears live on national television.

Reem Sahwil was 14 years old, and living on a temporary residence permit, when she was invited with others for a townhall-style public encounter with Merkel on July 15, 2015, in the northern city of Rostock: “It’s truly painful to watch other people enjoy life, if you yourself can’t do so,” the teenager told the Chancellor. "I don’t know what my future will look like."

Merkel answered that Germany couldn’t possibly house all the refugees who requested residency. And then Sahwil started to cry.

But now, a year later, Merkel has invited the teenager for another meeting, in private. Sahwil, who in the meantime has obtained permanent residency through next year, looks back thankfully to the emotional meeting with the German leader, who had been criticized harshly for her reaction. "It certainly was quite an exciting and special situation for her too." She now would simply like to thank Merkel "in the name of my family and myself, but also all the other refugees she has helped. It has not been an easy thing to do, for her, and for Germany."

Rostock Mayor Roland Merhling has nothing but praise for the young resident: "For me Reem Sahwil is the personification of successful integration. I appreciate not only her optimism and courage, but also her great strength and engagement to do something with her life."

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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