The photo of a Syrian child who was found drowned on a “paradise beach” near the Turkish city of Bodrum went viral on social networking sites. This photo was later published by major global magazines and newspapers that accused the Western governments of being responsible for this tragedy.
Perhaps the most direct and daring statement was made in a news piece published by The Independent, a British newspaper. The aforementioned photo was posted on the newspaper’s official Facebook page with a qustion to the British Prime Minister: “Is this drowned child one of the crowd of refugees that frighten you, Mr. Cameron?”
The Independent said that it decided to publish the picture on its website because “in the midst of the debate on the immigration crisis, it is easy to forget the reality of the tragic situation that many refugees face.”
The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, wrote: “the tragedy of this young child epitomizes the desperation of these refugees.”
Yvette Cooper, a candidate for the leadership of the British Labour Party, said: “The photo proves that we cannot ignore this subject. When mothers are struggling to prevent their children from drowning after their boat sank, Britain should take an action.”
French TV channel AT commented on the photo as follows: “This indeed puts Europe in front of the largest human tragedy in the continent since World War II.”
Le Nouvel Observateur magazine wrote: “All this for this hell? The terrible photo alone is enough to convince the world and Europe of the need to move from speech to action. Action means right now.”
In Spain, La Vanguardia newspaper said that if it is necessary to put a title on the Syrian tragedy, “this most heinous and egregious photo” would undoubtedly be an appropriate title to describe the catastrophic situation in Syria.
7/7, a Belgian news website, published the photo of the drowned child followed by this statement: “Despite the ugliness of giving the name of an innocent child to represent all the abmoniable crimes happening in Syria,” the newspaper decided to publish the photo “to change the way Europe deals with the refugee crisis today and to finally wake up their conscience.”
Meantime, the reaction of a lady dubbed by the regime as “Miss Syria” was shocking. On her Facebook page, she only expressed contempt of what she called “this dirty death”. “A Syrian child lying on a Greek coast, drowned because of the stupidity of his family who brought him to this dark fate. Whatever might have happened to his family in Syria, the child could have been spared this dirty death,” she wrote.
A few hours later, the “paradise beach” returned to its usual ambience, crowded with tourists who probably had no knowledge of the story of this little boy. The photo, however, changed how the media report the Syrian situation after it became the fourth or fifth headline on their news bulletins.
The activists – who changed their profile pictures to the photo of the drowned child – expressed their fear that the public sympathy may be short-lived and that the world would crawl back into its usual slumber after a few days.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer