Who “killed” Aylan 

Arshid Malik

Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old refugee from war-torn Syria was supposed to land in Europe; instead the journey claimed his life. He drowned after the 15-foot boat ferrying him from the Turkish beach resort of Bodrum to the Greek Island of Kos capsized shortly before dawn, killing 12 passengers. Aylan’s 5-year-old brother, Galip, and his mother, Rehan, were also among the dead. His father, Abdullah, was the only family member to survive.

Aylan was pictured face-down wearing a red T-shirt and shorts on a Turkish beach. The images of the toddler’s lifeless body reverberated across the globe, stirring public outrage and embarrassing political leaders as far away as Canada, where authorities had rejected an asylum application from the boy’s relatives. The boy’s father blames Canada for his death.

I saw the picture of lifeless Aylan for the first time on a social networking site and ever since the image has barraged through every multi-format medium of communication and I did not have the courage to look directly at this picture again – it just turned my guts – not exactly because I am a “pacifist” or a “humanitarian” but justly because I am a father and, I don’t know why, but ever since my own child was born I started relating with every child on this planet as if they all are my own. And I am filled with disgust over what “they” are doing to our children. The Syrian crisis is a lot for takes but the tragedy of children who suffer because of the despondent and self-effacing attitude of the “militarized grownups” – the rest of the world that is – is unacceptable and unforgivable.

I am a father and I am a Muslim and I am anguished by the attitude of the Muslim world towards Syrian refugee. I squarely place the blame for Aylan’s death as also the death of scores of children hit by the crisis on the arrogant attitude of the Muslim world. I am ashamed to declare myself a Muslim if I, or people of my “faith”, fail to provide succour to war-ravaged people, especially children.

Five of the wealthiest Muslim countries closed their doors on Syrian refugees over the lame argument that doing so would open them up to the risk of terrorism. That is a laugh alright. Terrorism is colloquial or rather synonymous with the Muslim world. Who are the Muslim countries trying to fool by presenting such lacklustre arguments? This in the light of the fact that the West has opened its doors to Syrian refugees even though the influx is destabilizing the internal dynamics of these nations which renders them more “Muslim” (at least by means of virtue) than us Muslims, in my humble opinion.

An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbours, 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile, under 150,000 Syrians have sought asylum in the European Union, while member states have pledged to resettle a further 33,000 Syrians. The vast majority of these resettlement spots – 28,500 or 85 percent – are pledged by Germany.

I can just imagine how many of these displaced people may turn out to be toddlers like Aylan, some homeless and some dead owing to our fictitious claims “of being people of the faith”. We Muslims are a heartless people who are regressively pulling the entire world down, my main concern being children, and then while not allowing our own war-ravaged people into our countries we say that they would breed terrorism when our attitude towards our own people speaks for itself. It says we are the real “terrorists” because we killed Aylan.

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