The father of Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body became a symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis, will call for open borders on this year’s “Alternative Christmas Message” on Channel 4.
Abdullah Kurdi will tell viewers he “would like the whole world to open its doors to Syrians”. “If a person shuts a door in someone’s face, this is very difficult. When a door is opened they no longer feel humiliated,” he will say.
He will also call on people to “think about the pain of fathers, mothers and children who are seeking peace and security” and adds: “Hopefully next year the war will end in Syria and peace will reign all over the world”.
Mr Kurdi’s appearance will inevitably generate controversy, not only due to his message of open borders but also because in the wake of the tragedy he was accused of being a people smuggler in charge of the boat that capsized.
Breitbart London reported last week how the famous photograph of Aylan Kurdi changed public attitudes towards the migrant crisis, shifting the media narrative towards the ‘refugees’ trope.
Speaking on the effectiveness of the image, Dr Claire Wardle, research director at the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Colombia University, said: “2015 was the year the Syrian refugee crisis hit the European consciousness, but it’s easy to forget that this was not the case before the Aylan Kurdi image.
“In April, over 700 refugees and migrants lost their lives when their boat capsized off Lampedusa. After one day of coverage, the story disappeared, despite the tragic loss of life.
“The photo of Aylan Kurdi galvanised the public in a way that hours of broadcasts and thousands of column inches wasn’t able to do. It has created a frame through which subsequent coverage has been positioned and compared.”
A church in Spain has even set up a nativity scene that replaces the baby Jesus with the image of Aylan, while his parents take the place of Mary and Joseph.
The scene was the idea of group Mensajeros de la Paz (Messengers of Peace), who installed it to raise awareness of the migrant crisis.