The massive wave of refugees currently sweeping through Europe in a quest for better living conditions was ignited by a single tweet from a German bureaucratic office.
On Aug. 25, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Nuremburg posted a message that said Germany's gates were open to the thousands of Syrians fleeing their war-torn homeland, The Wall Street Journal reported. "We are at present largely no longer enforcing Dublin procedures for Syrian citizens," the tweet said in German.
#Dublin-Verfahren syrischer Staatsangehöriger werden zum gegenwärtigen Zeitpunkt von uns weitestgehend faktisch nicht weiter verfolgt.— BAMF (@BAMF_Dialog) August 25, 2015
In other words, Germany has stopped applying the European Union's asylum rules, which require all migrants to be processed in the first EU country they enter (and leaving them stuck in those countries until their asylum claims have been approved).
This reversal was a boon to the thousands stuck and unwelcome in Hungary, or crowding overwhelmed refugee centers in Greece and Italy. Under the previous EU regulations, if any of those migrants did make it to Germany, they would be deported back to their initial EU arrival point.
The tweet confirmed rumors already floating online that Germany was suspending EU asylum rules for Syrian refugees. The decision had been quietly made a few days before, on Aug. 21, when Angelika Wenzel, an official at a German migration agency, drafted an internal guideline on the matter. A German nongovernmental organization called Pro Asyl found out about the guideline, and passed the information along, although the policy had not yet been confirmed officially.
Once the Aug. 25 tweet appeared as official proof of the rumors and the message went viral, German Chancellor Angela Merkel became a popular hero on Arabic social media. Memes appeared anointing her "the loving mother," "pure-hearted," and "a lion."
As Hungary released trains carrying thousands of refugees into Germany and Austria, Merkel initially responded to the flood by saying the guideline had cause "a misunderstanding," and that EU law still applied. Yet in the face of unstoppable marches into the country, Germany announced late on Sept. 4 that it would indeed let migrants in.