Why are Syrians sending love letters to Angela Merkel?

  • 26 August 2015

Far-right protesters in Germany may be booing Chancellor Merkel, but Syrians are sending her loving notes on Facebook.

The message came in a tweet from Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees on Tuesday. Syrian citizens, the office said, would no longer be subject to the Dublin Regulation. The real meaning behind the rather dry edict? Germany won't send Syrian asylum seekers back to the EU country where they first landed - for instance, Greece or Italy. The move will potentially allow thousands to claim refugee status in Germany, and it seems to have been big news among Syrians.

Overnight it prompted an outpouring of love on Facebook for Germans and, in particular, Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Image caption Images such as this one were being shared widely on social media. The accompanying message says "We love Germany"
Image caption A romantic poem superimposed on a photo of the German leader. The caption calls it a verse "for refugees"
Image caption Photo caption: "We love you". Arabic comment: "Merkel deserves thanks for suspending the Dublin Regulation. I would love to meet you some day"
Image caption Some users adapted a poster and slogan used by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to hail Merkel instead. Others compared the German leader to the Christian king Negus, who sheltered Muslims during the Crusades. One Facebook user wrote: "We will tell our children that Syrian migrants fled their country to come to Europe when Mecca and Muslim lands were closer to them"

Merkel's reception among Syrians contrasts with the one she received at a migrant centre near Dresden, where she was booed by far-right protesters. Germany expects to take in 800,000 asylum seekers this year. Although only a fraction of those were from Syria, that number is greater than the total number of applicants taken in by all 28 EU states last year: 626,000.

Media captionMerkel was booed by protesters as she called anti-migrant protests "shameful" on a visit to an asylum shelter which was the focus of clashes at the weekend

Blog by Mamdouh Akbiek, Mai Noman and Mike Wendling

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