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Germany’s Merkel thanked by Afghan boy at party meeting

Merkel stepped down from the podium to meet the boy and pose for photos

Image Credit: AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Afghan refugee boy Edris and his father at a regional conference of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Heidelberg, western Germany, yesterday.
Gulf News

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has moved a young Afghan boy to tears, shaking his hand after he publicly thanked her at a party meeting.

The boy, identified only as Edris, and his father attended a congress in Heidelberg Monday evening of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. Edris said: “Thank you, Mrs Merkel!” The chancellor replied: “You’ve learnt German well” and added “keep practising.” He did, telling the chancellor: “And I wanted to touch your hands once.”

Merkel stepped down from the podium to meet the boy and pose for photos. Video footage showed the youngster wiping away tears.

Germany took in hundreds of thousands of refugees last year, earning Merkel both praise and criticism. Earlier in Monday’s meeting, a disgruntled party member urged her to resign, earning boos.

More than a million refugees have come to Germany since the start of 2015, and an initial outpouring of helpfulness has largely given way to caution and concerns about integration and security.

At a regional conference of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), party member Ulrich Sauer urged Merkel — who said on November 20 she wanted to run for a fourth term in next year’s election — to resign.

“With your truly unparalleled ‘laissez-faire’ refugee policy you have burdened us with something that we will not get rid of any time soon,” Sauer said. “Step down now before the damage you have done becomes even greater.”