Who is Alan Kurdi?
In February 2019 the rescue ship Professor Albrecht Penck of the German sea rescue organization Sea-Eyewas renamed to Alan Kurdi
Following a serious confrontation, similar to the one in early July 2019 with the German Sea-Watch organization rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 under the command of Carola Rackete, Italian authorities denied the Alan Kurdi access to the harbour of Lampedusa on 6 July 2019.
After international intervention, the refugees eventually entered Malta on 7 July 2019.
But who is Alan Kurdi?
Alan Kurdi initially reported as Aylan Kurdi, was a Syrian boy of Kurdish ethnic background whose image made global headlines after he drowned on 2 September 2015 in the Mediterranean Sea.
The two-year-old child and his family were attempting to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece on September 2, 2015, when their overcrowded rubber boat capsized off the Turkish coast, killing Alan (his name initially misreported as Aylan), his 4-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother Rehanna.
By then, thousands of children had already perished along the same perilous route to Europe, killed by Syria’s gruesome civil war or drowned at sea. Thousands more would continue to die in the years that followed. But it was a picture of Kurdi in sneakers, blue shorts and a red T-shirt, lying face down in the sand, that captured the public’s attention and drew a deep emotional reaction around the world. The image was heartbreaking but not gruesome, the child’s face invisible and his pose suggesting sleep, rather than death.
Kurdi’s tragic death also underscored how photographs could raise awareness of a crisis, shape public opinion, and bring about political responses.
Within hours of the images going viral, donations to charities had gone through the roof. And within days, some of the most hardline governments had announced radical policy U-turns on the migrant issue (albeit short-lived ones). In Britain and Australia, to name but two recalcitrant countries, ruling conservatives agreed overnight to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees.
The technology that allowed the images to spread far and wide also enabled web users to edit the material, generating galleries of memes that photoshopped pictures of Kurdi’s body for provocative or humorous effects.
Cartoonists from around the world also offered their take on the toddler’s death, sometimes stirring controversies, as when French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo imagined an adolescent Kurdi harassing young girls during Cologne’s notorious New Years Eve sexual assaults later that year.
Via France 24/WikiPedia/The Guardian