Protect All, Protect Everywhere

December 30, 2015

How would you like to remember 2015?

A year of migrant crisis, a year of unabated ISIS terror or —on the positive side — the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and agreement of the UN Climate Change Conference on reduction of global warming.  Starting with the Nepal earthquake in April, the year remained rife with disturbing news.

More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe, thousands perished on the way.

Thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to the UN, were killed and more are still being killed in the Gaza Strip. 

From the bombing of a mosque killing 137 people in Yemen to the downing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt, to attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, the ISIS showed it is a threat everywhere.

Nigeria’s military killed and quickly buried at least 300 Shia Muslims in an unjustified attack in the northern Zaria district in December, according to Human Rights Watch. Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is being held by the police despite demands for his release from illegal detention.     

As the year comes to an end, it is time to reflect and draw lessons.

There were words of sympathy over attacks in Yemen, Syria and Beirut but it was only after the Paris attacks that the world powers initiated some joint action against ISIS. Shouldn’t the loss of human life anywhere draw similar responses from world leaders and the media?

While statesmen failed, people used social media to influence some positive action.

Who can forget the image of Aylan Kurdi — a three-year-old Syrian boy — lying face down on the beach? On twitter, the hashtag, #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (“humanity washed ashore”) sparked an international outcry. The little boy became the human face of the migrant crisis.

In the US, Sophia, a young girl, was terrified on hearing proposals of Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country. Her mother shared the child’s anxiety on Facebook:”She began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes.” Kerri Peek, an Army veteran, saw the post and was horrified. She reacted positively. To reassure the child, she posted her picture in uniform on Facebook and asked the mother to share it with Sophia with her message: “ Here’s a picture of me as a mom and soldier and I’ll come to protect you.”  Peek started the hashtag #iwillprotectyou and invited other military service members and veterans on social media to pledge to protect Muslim children like Sofia from being discriminated against.

Let’s hope love will prevail over hate and the spirit of  #protectallprotecteverywhere will drive us, statesmen and media included, in the New Year.

Wishing everyone a peaceful 2016!