GERMANY

Refugees, Saddened By German Elections, Dream Of Canada

New immigrants to Germany and members of Middle Eastern refugee online communities say newfound support for the anti-immigrant political party can't be ignored

GERMANY
BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 14: German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel speaks to the media following elections in three German states on March 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Voters went to the polls yesterday in Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Wuerttemberg and the right-leaning populist Alternative fuer Deutschland (Alternative for Germany,AfD) scored double-digit results in all three, dealing a blow to Germany's established parties, especially to the CDU. Merkel's liberal immigration policy towards migrants and refugees was a major issue in the elections and the AfD aimed its campaign at Germans who are uneasy with so many newcomers. (Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images) — Getty Images
Mar 14, 2016 at 12:27 PM ET

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling party suffered bruising losses in Sunday’s election over Merkel’s welcoming of refugees from the war-torn Middle East—while the anti-immigrant Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party racked up historic gains. The results outraged and saddened the nearly one million new asylum seekers who’ve arrived in the country since last year—and some are now talking about finding a more hospitable host country.

“Most refugees are now interested in the elections in Germany and praying to Allah for Merkel’s party to win and beat the right-wing party,” Adi Abu Sadam, a Syrian who’s now living in Germany, wrote in Arabic on his personal Facebook page. A post in a Facebook group for Middle Eastern immigrants in Germany even called for a march to support Merkel. “Merkel’s party lost in the elections in two districts. I’m asking you to support her in any way possible,” an online flyer posted to the Middle Eastern immigrant group said. “Go to the streets with signs. On Facebook, on Twitter, because she’s the face of humanity.”

Others were saddened by the fact that they could no longer ignore Germans’ support for anti-immigrant policy. “The right wing party ‘AFD’ achieved a great victory in the three districts due to its anti-refugees policy,” one commenter in a refugee Facebook group said. “I’m citing professor Ahmed Hassou who taught hundreds of German journalists Arabic, and I’m asking the refugees, do you still want to bury your head in the sand?”

Some immigrants half joked on Facebook that the election results made them more likely to plan to pack up their things and move to Canada. Canada has become a symbol of a safe haven to many refugees after the country’s prime minister Justin Trudeau was photographed welcoming refugees and the hashtag #WelcomeRefugees circulated as a way for Canadians to make the refugees feel at home through video and photos.

Chancellor Merkel said the vote marked a ‘difficult day’ for her party, but despite the losses, she won’t back down on her plan of cooperating with other European countries to house refugees. “I am firmly convinced, and that wasn’t questioned today, that we need a European solution and that this solution needs time,” she said.