This Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph (above) provided the media with the “human face” of the migrant crisis it longed for. But the family, who said they were fleeing for their lives, are now living back in Iraq after only six months in Germany.
The Majid family told the media in September that, as Sunni Muslims, they escaped majority Shiite Iraq because they received death threats. Three months later, speaking to the BBC, the father Laith said “gangsters” had threatened to kidnap their children in Iraq, whereas that “Here in Germany, I feel safe and people treat me very well.”
After receiving the award for the photograph last week, German-born Daniel Etter wanted to celebrate with the Majids, but the mobile number the family had been using no longer worked and the Spandau barracks, where they had been staying, said they had no idea of their whereabouts.
Bild managed to track down the elder son, Mustafa. Having been thrown out and banned from the Spandau shelter for beating up an Afghan migrant he said he sleeps at friends’ houses and at LaGeSo, the first contact point for migrants in Germany, where he bemoans having to constantly watch his possessions.
He revealed that the rest of the family – who in September expressed gratitude to Angela Merkel calling her “the Queen of Germany” who is “like a mother” to them – had returned to Iraq – the city he fled – after Laith’s mother died.
Laith wanted to return to Baghdad, the city he fled, to bury her. Mustafa explained that his mother Neda “was worried that he would not come back, so she and [his] younger siblings joined him.”
The family are now living in the safe Kurdish city of Erbil in northern Iraq, which also – incidentally – boasts a “German Restaurant and Beer Garden”. It is also where, Spiegel reported, after leaving their home in Baghdad, the Majids traveled to catch the plane to Turkey in their journey to Europe. A car mechanic by trade, Laith is helping at a garage to help pay living costs.
The photo of Laith Majid breaking into tears while clutching his two young children was the second major propaganda victory for pro-migrant newspapers, commentators, and activists.
The first was the photograph of Aylan Kurdi’s drowned body, which Breitbart London reported was a “watershed moment, shifting the language used [in] the migration debate firmly in favour of the ‘refugees’ trope” according to top academic research.
Soon after the photograph reached iconic status some facts – inconvenient to the pro-migrant narrative – emerged, namely that the drowned toddler and his family had been living in a house in Turkey and that a close family relative said the boy’s father left for Europe to get “new teeth”.
The Kurdis’ former landlady was quoted saying “They were having a good life here in Turkey, I don’t know why they left.”
With the Kurdis before them and now the Majids, the narrative of both of the photographs used to justify opening Europe’s borders – that they were desperate “refugees“, fleeing for their lives – has unraveled.