A popular vacation spot for Europeans, the Turkish coast of Bodrum, served to etch one of the most dastardly sights upon the minds of millions this week. As the picture of 3 year old Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi, hit the news and social media screens, millions aired their collective disbelief, sorrow and pain.
A child, escaping the disasters of a horrendous war, one of the hundreds of thousands referred to by David Cameron as a ‘swarm’ mere days ago, has quickly come to represent the horrors of ‘illegal’ migration to Europe and the unbearable conditions responsible for such a journey.
No length and breadth of words or emotions can begin to reflect the heartbreak felt by any sane human being at such a sight.
Across Western Europe the response of the average individual has served to reinvigorate faith in humanity, with many calling for greater assistance for and acceptance of those escaping the horrors of war in their homelands. The hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (“humanity washed ashore”) is currently trending across all opinion platforms.
Germany has been at the forefront of such efforts, suspending the European Union’s rules on refugees (that they must remain and be processed in the first country of the EU that they enter) and acknowledging a willingness to assess at least 800,000 asylum applications this year. This follows on from the from the already heartening response from the country’s population in general with many football stadiums displaying banners of ‘Refugees Welcome’ at the weekend.
Other European countries have been far more reluctant to accept such migrants from Slovakia’s racist position (we will accept limited refugees and only if they’re Christian) to the British Prime Minister labelling those camped at Calais as a ‘swarm’.
This graphic tragedy has shifted the public perception considerably. There have been widespread calls across the continent for European countries and leaders to do far more to ease the plight of those in desperate need. Thousands have volunteered to share their homes, and their lives, with those struck so immensely by conditions beyond their control.
This may yet reflect in the response of European leaders, insistent on stopping all migrants and playing the politics of fear thus far.
In the outpouring of public grief, David Cameron is expected to change his previous position on the matter in a speech today, conceding that Britain will accept many more refugees than the small numbers previously posited.
Why must it take such graphic horror, the unnecessary death of a child, to shake our humanity into life? Why was David Cameron unaware of the nightmare that has been unfolding in Syria (and elsewhere) for several years now?
The fact remains that even if he does bow to public pressure, the duplicity of the British government has been laid bare for all to see. Why would Britain shirk away from its responsibility? Especially given that it is the chief culprit, amongst all European nations, for creating the woe that these people are escaping.
What does Britain and the British fear?
An occupation? One would have to be at an advanced degree of insanity to consider that prospect seriously.
A diminishing in the standard of life within the country? Highly unlikely. Even if it was a real possibility, there isn’t a nation on this planet who deserves such diminution more than Great Britain.
How did this country build this standard of life in the first instance? Through imperialism, colonisation, usurping of resources, genocides, loot and pillage.
You are concerned about Syrian refugees? Maybe that ought to have been considered when Britain was selling weapons to its tyrannical dictator? Or when artificial nations were being created under the Sykes-Picot plan? Or the permanent destabilisation of the Middle East through the Balfour Declaration?
Let Britain take a look at its foreign policy and the countless wars it either partakes in or sponsors, directly and indirectly. Work to eradicate the root ‘diseases’ which this country inflicts upon the world so often rather than reacting in emotion to the ‘symptoms’. It may be prudent to remember that Syria, under the same butcher Assad, was one of the sites of British rendition and torture.
It is saddening that the mere recounting of horrors is not sufficient to invoke our deepest emotions. We need pictures and tangibility, ‘proof’ to satisfy our minds. Those moved deeply by the pictures of a dead child are reflective of the fact that humanity, in the vast majority, is constituted of ‘good’ people, often misled by propaganda and fear.
However, this picture merely reaffirms the reality of the Syrian life for nearly 4 and a half years. There have been chemical weapons attacks and no real response. There has been indiscriminate barrel bombing of the Syrian towns and cities by the regime, without real retort. The regime has broken every rule of morality and ethics repeatedly whilst the world has watched with its pathetic condemnations of hypocrisy.
It wasn’t long ago that the most popular rag in this country, the Sun, gave column space (and continues to do so) to a vile human being, allowing her to brandish drowned migrants of the Mediterranean ‘cockroaches’ and proposing that gunships be used to stop them entering Europe. There have been thousands of Aylans.
There are hundreds of thousands dead and over 4 million refugees as a result of this war. But it takes this picture for us to wake up?
Stuck between the despicable regime’s murder and the resultant murderous campaign of ISIS, risking life at sea has become the safer option for millions of Syrians.
The Muslim world’s response to the Syrian plight is even more depressing. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, the Gulf States and all others have failed miserably in remembering this Ummah as one body.
Token slogans, paltry assistance and inaction are their collective gift to the children of Syria, growing up under the barrage of mortar shells and fighter jets.
Pakistan can send military assistance to the Saudi regime, in order to murder Yemenis, but not to help Syrians in dire need?
The Saudi royal family can buy all the weaponry and fighter jets for display purposes but not fear their Lord, actively removing Assad from his barbarous tyranny?
The Emiratis have billions to waste on football and horses but cannot assist those ravaged by the war in Syria?
It is the need of our time that the Ummah return to its roots and dissolve these artificial lines on a map, the foundation of so much evil and injustice in the world. A united Muslim polity, without consideration of tribe, caste or colour is ordained by Allah SWT, prophesied by His Beloved (SAW) and the obvious (even if difficult) solution.
Aylan, and thousands like him, will stand as firm witnesses against us on the day of reckoning, on the day when you shall not escape your deeds and omissions.