7-year-old Syrian girl uses Twitter to raise awareness about children in Aleppo
Tragically enough, the most attention Aleppo and its bitter struggles with terrorism received was through the notorious gaffe of former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who didn’t even know what it was. But now, a 7-year-old Syrian girl is raising awareness about children in Aleppo and their terrifying day-to-day experiences, living through constant bombings and comforting themselves with books and companionship.
Bana Alabed and her mother manage a Twitter account with now hundreds of thousands of followers posting photos and videos of the destruction unfolding all around them, as well as powerfully humanizing photos of innocent, distressed children just like her trying to lead normal lives amidst chaos and oppression. As of a bombing that took place on Sunday, Alabed and her family lost their home, but the fact that they survived comes as a tremendous relief after Alabed posted a heartbreaking goodbye message prior to the bombing.
In one tweet, Alabed tragically pointed out how she, her family, and children just like her in the city could “die at anytime,” and in a series of other tweets, pleaded with the rest of the world to “save us now.”
Alabed’s Twitter and the content it shares are of particular importance now that most conservative politicians, including the man we’ve just elected president, persistently demonize refugees as terrorists in disguise, just because of where they’re from. The reality is that refugees (who undergo a rigorous vetting process that could literally take years) are running from the terrorists many politicians portray them as.
Another critically important reality is that the majority of Syrian refugees attempting to enter the United States are far from the male super soldiers Republicans try to portray them as. Rather, they’re actually children just like Alabed and those she represents on her Twitter.
On Wednesday, in the wake of an attack at Ohio State University that ISIS dishonestly claimed responsibility for, President-elect Donald Trump used the alleged attacker’s past as the son of refugees to further demonize refugees from the Middle East. Trump’s own son, Donald Trump, Jr., previously likened refugees with Skittles, as if human beings fleeing terror and oppression are the same as candy.
Alabed and her mother set out to fight these very attitudes with their Twitter account and prove to the world that, actually, children in Aleppo are human beings and not mere pieces of candy. “Bana kept asking me to share our story so the world can understand what is happening to us,” her mother, Fatemah, told NBC News in October. “I thought of Twitter as a means of getting our message out … so that the voice of the children of Aleppo can be heard.”
“The children lost their sense of childhood,” Fatemah explained. “They forgot what it means to play and go around and visit parks. It is now like a dream for them to go out for the day.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Bana pleaded with the world to accept and listen to her and others like her. “We are children. We love life. We want the world to hear us,” she said.
Presently, 7.5 million Syrian children have been affected by the war and an estimated 2 million are not able to attend school as a result.