- Title: In Germany, Syrians worry Afghan crisis could fuel anti-migrant vote
- Date: 23rd August 2021
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (AUGUST 2021) (REUTERS) MODAMANI AND JOURNALIST WALKING THROUGH HOUSING ESTATE VARIOUS OF MODAMANI AND JOURNALIST TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (German) ANAS MODAMANI, WHO TOOK SELFIE WITH GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGEL MERKEL IN 2015, SAYING: "My name is Anas Modamani, I am 24 years old, I have been living in Berlin for roughly six years. I met Chancellor Angela Merkel spontaneously in the refugee accommodation where I used to live. I was completely new there, it was my second night in the refugee accommodation and Mrs Merkel came to visit us and I took a selfie with Mrs Merkel." CLOSE OF MODAMANI'S EYES (SOUNDBITE) (German) ANAS MODAMANI, WHO TOOK SELFIE WITH GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGEL MERKEL IN 2015, SAYING: "I took the selfie and the selfie has a huge meaning for me. For me it is a symbol for all refugees and lives up to my expectations of all that I was hoping for. Mrs Merkel made it possible for me to be given a chance here and to stay here and if I think about this pictures then it gets me remembering again and makes me very happy. The picture hangs on the wall in my home and has many meanings for me. It is more than just a picture for me, it has become a symbol." JOURNALIST TAKING NOTES (SOUNDBITE) (German) ANAS MODAMANI, WHO TOOK SELFIE WITH GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGEL MERKEL IN 2015, SAYING: "For me, Merkel is the heroine who saved my life. She is the strongest woman in Europe and she gave me everything that I wished for. And the most important thing, that I could stay here. She is a hero to me!" WOMAN WALKING DOG (SOUNDBITE) (German) ANAS MODAMANI, WHO TOOK SELFIE WITH GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGEL MERKEL IN 2015, SAYING: "I am very sad and am worried about the future. She is going now and won't be around any more. But she has her private life and I am worried now about the refugee policies and many other topics. To see what will now change and whether things get better or worse. We don't know, it is a matter of time and I hope that Mrs Merkel decides to stay. But she doesn't want to." STATUE IN PARK (SOUNDBITE) (German) ANAS MODAMANI, WHO TOOK SELFIE WITH GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGEL MERKEL IN 2015, SAYING: "If I could vote and had a German passport I would of course vote for (conservative candidate Armin) Laschet because he is a great person and also lives up to my expectations and he also said a lot of good things for refugee policies. He is an open person, he is similar to Mrs Merkel and I hope that he wins." PIGEONS IN TREE MODAMANI AND JOURNALIST TALKING VARIOUS OF MODAMANI WALKING VARIOUS OF HOUSING ESTATE
- Embargoed: 6th September 2021 09:28
- Keywords: German Chancellor Angela Merkel Syrian election legacy migrant policy migrant refugee crisis 2015 selfie vote
- Location: BERLIN & PASSAU, GERMANY
- City: BERLIN & PASSAU, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Europe,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA005ERI1SG7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Some of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees living in Germany on asylum visas are concerned that an Afghan migrant crisis could fuel an anti-immigrant vote at a national election next month and block their path to citizenship.
Already, the Taliban's lightning takeover of Afghanistan has sparked a chaotic flight of thousands of Afghans and foreigners from Kabul airport this week, raising fears of a larger exodus across land borders as the Islamist militants impose sharia law.
Germany's scramble to evacuate thousands of local helpers from Afghanistan, along with its own citizens, has turned immigration into a big issue in the election campaign as voters worry about a possible repeat of Europe's 2015 migrant crisis.
Anas Modamani, among the close to 800,000 Syrians who fled the war at home and resettled in Germany is still waiting to qualify for citizenship and is afraid the Afghan crisis could harden German voters against immigration.
Modamani said Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he posed for an iconic selfie at a Berlin migrants shelter in September 2015, "saved my life" with her decision that year to open Germany's border to almost one million asylum seekers.
"I'm worried about what immigration policies will come our way once she's no longer chancellor," said Modamani, 24, as Merkel prepares to step down after Germany's Sept. 26 election.
His picture with Merkel became a symbol of her decision in 2015 to gamble her political capital on welcoming 1 million unscreened migrants, mainly from Syria. But her conservative Christian Democrats now vow there can be no repeat of 2015.
An INSA poll on Sunday (August 22) showed Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) tied at 22%.
About two thirds of Germans fear events in Afghanistan could lead to a large number of people fleeing to Germany in a repeat of the migrant crisis six years ago, a scenario that other parties also want to avoid.
With Merkel soon leaving office, Syrians like Modamani fear that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) could capitalise on Germans' angst about an Afghan migrants influx to boost its share of the vote.
Sunday's INSA poll showed the AfD at 12%, up from 11% a week earlier.
(Production: Martin Schlicht, Tanya Wood, Joseph Nasr)
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