By: Maryam Onida
Throughout 2016, the world was tested with various challenges, from terrorism, political uprising, refugee management among others, so much that United Nations (UN), kept clamoring for a united front to tackle these problems, calling them an affront on world collective humanity because people were dying in their billions each day.
A call, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, heeded to and thus, has earned her The Guild World Hero for 2016.
Merkel, despite widespread criticism, shown unparalleled devotion to humanity by her resoluteness in providing safe haven for refugees fleeing their country of origin to find relief in European countries.
The German woman braveness as exhibited in 2016 has cast doubt on what a man can do, a woman can do better philosophy, out of her opposite sex minds and razed status of other women in societies across the globe; and the US Democrat Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, would have second her had it been she did not lose to her Republican contender, president-elect, Donald Trump.
The Chancellor, a doctor in physics, started active political career in 1989 when she joined the Democratic Awakening. After the first multiparty election of East Germany state, she became deputy spokesperson of the pre-unification caretaker government.
In 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag, a constitutional and legislative body at the federal level in Germany. She was also Minister for Women and Youth and later Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety.
She continued active politics as leader of opposition party, CDU in 1998. During the period, she led the party to various victories and ultimately in 2005, She emerged German Chancellor.
The three term Chancellor started an open door immigration policy to allow more refugees majorly fleeing war-torn Syria and Iraq to seek asylum in the country, saying it was an humanitarian duty to help and support refugees.
Due to the policy, Merkel faced criticism from political counterparts and lost popularity among the German citizens that her political party, Christain Democratic Union (CDU) lost in regional elections to opposition, Alternative for Deutscheland (AfD)
Markus Soeder, a senior member of the CDU, in an interview with a German magazine said, “Even with the best will in the world, we won’t manage to integrate so many people from totally different cultures.”
He posited that Germany should send the refugees back over the next few years instead of allowing their families into the country.
In addition, Former Bavarian Prime Minister, Edmund Stoiber accused Mrs Merkel of not considering citizens’ fears, saying she no longer represents the majority.
Corroborating him, Foreign nationals who have lived in Germany for decades have also called for Mrs Merkel to deport migrants who have arrived in the last two years noting that crisis has wrecked their standard of living.
One woman who identified herself as a National Democratic Party voter said: “Today’s refugees get social housing, welfare payments. And this, and that, and this. Why? I’m a foreigner myself.”
Consequently, Far-right movements have also led campaigns against Germany’s welcome of refugees, blaming them for an increase of crime in several cities.
“People are very unhappy with her refugee policies,” said Helmut Schroeder, a 61-year-old unemployed locksmith in Greifswald. “It’s astonishing that one woman could take such a momentous decision on her own. We are not a monarchy.”
Despite terrorist attacks recorded in 2016 which according to whole of opposition was as a result of migrants influx, it is believed by others that her open door policy would help protect the country from terrorist attacks in the long run.
They argue that by showing compassion to hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees, the German Chancellor has sent a message to the world that Germany is not at war with Islam.
Hence, more importantly, this means that the vast majority of Muslims resident in Germany have every reason to cooperate with the security services in fight against terrorism.
Though, Merkel admitted that the open door policy might have had its pitfalls, she maintained in her New Year message that Germans must in a firm resolve take a stand against terrorists’ world of hate with more humanity and solidarity.
Expressing her resolve on immigration policy, she said, “And as we are confronted with images of the bombed-out city of Aleppo in Syria, we reiterate how important and vital it has been for our country to take in those who truly needed protection, and to help them become integrated here”.
With this singular action of hers, regardless of its shortfalls, she has dared and questioned the sincerity and integrity of other leaders in the Western world, a feat History must give her credit for.