Launching: Let’s Make A Difference
I’ve been following the the migrant story in Europe closely since 2013 when the crisis started to gain momentum, fueled by the disintegration of Libya due to the removal of Gadaffi the year before. Back then the migrant corridor was between Libya and Sicily and the Syrian exodus was just beginning. In 2014 the big game changer was the rise of ISIS and hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis flooded into already overflowing refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Adding to the crisis we have the rise of other Islamist groups in the sub-Sahara such as Boko Haram active in Nigeria and other West African countries and Al-Shabaab, operating in the East and adding to the misery that is Somalia. And that was not enough fundamentalism we also have the Islamist Ansar Dine causing chaos in Mali. Across a huge swath of this planet millions are fleeing terror, war, persecution and desperate living conditions.
I challenge you to spend a few moments thinking what life would be like if armed, ruthless militants invaded your town or city.
Imagine your normal life. Every day you get up, see your kids off to school, go to work, go shopping, prepare meals for your family and you make plans for holidays. Just like a normal person. Suddenly, anarchy breaks out in parts of your country and religious extremists are grabbing control of huge areas. You start to hear gunfire so you stay inside, glued to the TV and internet for any information. You hear that the local army barracks is empty, the soldiers fleeing in fright. When you finally venture out one day you see masked men patrolling the streets and bodies laying where they fell. Bombs start falling all around you as the government fights backs. Electricity is out. You’re running out of food. Water is no longer flowing from the tap. If you go out in search of food and water there is a good chance you will be killed by snipers, or bombs dropped by drones or intercepted by militants and interrogated and tortured. Yet if you don’t out and search for supplies you and your family will soon be dead. And when you’re indoors you jump at the slightest noise outside your door, wondering if armed men are coming to rape your wife and daughters and haul you away.
It’s hard to picture isn’t it? Wouldn’t you want to get the hell out of there? Wouldn’t you want to get your family to a safe place? This is the reality for millions of people RIGHT NOW. They might not look exactly like you. They might dress differently. They might speak a strange language. They might have different beliefs to you. But they are still human beings, they are still the same as you. They have the same thoughts and dreams and worries as anyone else. You’d think the instinctive response would be to help and in many people I’m sure it is.
The Rise Of Nationalism
And yet over the last year I’ve seen a disturbing trend in my Facebook feed. There is a lot of anti-immigrant, anti-migrant, anti-refugee rhetoric floating around. People are sharing images by nationalistic groups, in my case being from the UK, these groups would be Britain First, UKIP and the EDL. They create memes based on illogical strawmen talking points like “Share this if you think we should shelter this homeless ex-serviceman before these immigrants”. As if one has anything to do with the other. These groups are tricking normally intelligent people to share and spread hateful ideas by plucking at the heart-strings of injustice. Of course that ex-soldier suffering from PTSD due to combat experiences in Afghanistan should be getting help from the nation he so bravely served. But does that mean we can’t also help others that are in need? When I see such things I recognise a major mechanism that is used by 0.01% to control the masses and that is to have everyone fight each other so their attention is distracted from their rape and pillage of society in general. Let’s not be fooled into fighting each other for the scraps and breadcrumbs left us by the world’s powerful and wealthy elite.
A small selection of tasty memes shared on Facebook:
I encourage everyone to read this great article by Vice that debunks some of the memes at length. But the real eye-opener is the comments at the bottom of the page. The degree that many have been conditioned to hate Muslims over the past decade is deep and truly horrifying.
Time To Fight Back
Selfies For Syria is a social media campaign to raise money for migrants fleeing oppression, tyranny and poverty. Together we will drown out the voices of hate in our feeds, raise awareness of the plight of millions of people and show our solidarity with fellow members of our human race. Please consider uploading a Selfie (or other fetching photo of yourself), donating $10 via PayPal and then sharing your donation on Facebook or Twitter. If things are tight and you can’t spare $10 just now but this message resonates with you please share this website on Facebook/Twitter or “like” our Facebook Page. Each grid we fill raises $100,000 for various charities doing important work on the ground in war-torn areas, refugee camps and patrolling migrant routes in the Mediterranean Sea. There will be other posts that will lay out fundraising as grids fill and new grids are launched. Our Projects page will also have more details as things progress.