Luna Reyes, 20, went viral on social media this week after a Reuters journalist filmed her embracing a sobbing man who had just swum from Morocco to Ceuta. He was among the 8,000 migrants who scrambled, swam or waded into the territory on Tuesday, in search of a better life in Europe.
Luna Reyes, 20, said she had to set her social media accounts to private after a torrent of racist and sexist abuse.
Reyes, who has been volunteering with the Red Cross since March as part of her studies, told local media she has approached the man with a bottle of water when he broke down and clung to her.
“He was crying, I held out my hand and he hugged me,” she said, according to the Guardian. “He clung to me. That embrace was his lifeline.”
The video has since received national attention in Spain, causing the hashtag #GraciasLuna to start trending.
But Reyes said she’s been forced to set her social media accounts to private after she became the target of sexist and racist abuse from online trolls, including supporters of Spain’s far-right Vox party.
“They saw that my boyfriend was Black, they wouldn’t stop insulting me and saying horrible, racist things to me,” Reyes told local media, according to the Guardian.
“We will not allow hatred to win,” Rita Maestre, the councilor for the capital Madrid, said on Twitter. “Those of us who see this embrace as a symbol of the best of our country outnumber the others.”
Spain’s economy minister, Nadia Calviño also tweeted: “#Gracias Luna for representing the best values of our society,”
More than 8,000 migrants, many of them unaccompanied minors, arrived in Ceuta on Tuesday. But many of them have been sent back, including the man in the video.
Spain has condemned Morocco for deliberately opening border gates to allow migrants through.