This photo is changing peoples’ minds on refugees 214



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Source: Daniel Etter

It is perhaps too heartbreaking to contemplate, or too hard. Imagine you were running from war, conflict, terrorists, any number of things that were putting you and your family’s lives in danger. It wouldn’t be a matter of where, but a matter of when.

Simply, putting ourselves in the shoes of a refugees is incredibly difficult. Australians live in a stable environment free from warfare and violent attacks on the masses. We could never fathom the feeling of fleeing from everything you know.

That is why this image of a man has gone viral, as it epitomises a sense of enormous relief at a time of desperation and uncertainty, whilst holding on to everything you hold dear.

The photo of Laith Majid clasping his son and daughter after their rickety boat arrived safely on the Greek island of Kos has been shared thousands of times across the world since it was first published by the New York Times on Sunday.

Freelance photographer Daniel Etter was deeply moved by the moment he had captured, posting to Facebook: “I might not be the most emotional person, but the father, Laith Majid, and his reaction when he and his family reached Greece still makes me cry”.

Majid’s pained expression has become the face of asylum seekers at a time when we have long viewed them as faceless.

“Tony Abbott stopped the boats. At least his problem is gone. Look at this picture and try not to feel something,” wrote Australian award-winning photojournalist Andrew Quilty, reports Fairfax.

The story behind the image is Majid and his children were among 15 men, women and children who hopped on a rubber boat that travelled from Bodrum, Turkey to the Greek island.

The family fled their home in Syria, but did not take the decision lightly, said Etter.

“[The wife] told me it took them a long time to decide whether to leave their home or not”, and it cost them around $8,000 AUD to travel two hours from Bodrum to Kos.

“After more than two hours of driving the boat had lost air, water had leaked into it, the refugees were soaked when they arrived at the shore. They were then completely relieved to have arrived safely,” Etter told German-speaking news site Speigel.

“In that moment it all came at them together, the joy of having done it; the love for their family; the grief over what had happened”.

Etter has been overwhelmed by the reaction and said “This is why I do what I do”.


Tell us, did the photo make you reconsider or reaffirm your views on refugees? 

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  1. Serbia has hundreds arrive. They are in parks and tents. With nowhere to go and no food ect. They are going to Greece to. Countries with no money to give. It won’t stop until war stops.

  2. We have so much. We must share with others. It’s inhuman to turn away people in need.

    1 REPLY
    • So far we are a lucky country but we are also a dry and most of our fertile land is along the coast we need to find way how to make our land more fertile before we bring any more refugees than the 13 thousands that come in every year.

  3. Only re confirmed my view that these people need our compassion and help. Who amongst us wouldn’t do anything to keep our children safe?

    1 REPLY
    • sometimes you have to fight for what you want. This Muslim fight is bad we don’t know how to control it and if we don’t watch out it might come to our shores. They don’t seem to be happy with the land they have they just want more land and more of their rules and not many people are prepared to stop them.

  4. These people are genuine refugees. 99% of the boat people are not. Genuine refugees should always be made welcome.

    25 REPLY
    • Sharon. How can desperate genuine refugees get to Australia other than by boat? We are an island continent, remember!

    • lies Trish Paratene !! ..give me a break you Liberals invented lies 🙂 David and Laura put out a links to disprove this..where is your proof? You have none because there is no proof, so we should just believe your big mouth and obvious bias?

      1 REPLY
    • My mind didn’t need to be changed – I am ashamed & disgusted of our treatment of refugees. Refugees – not illegals. Sick of hearing “how can they afford the payments etc.”one doesn’t have to be poor to be a refugee. NB 2nd World War. I actually thought the figure was closer to the other way round – 98% proven to be genuine!

      1 REPLY
      • Dead right. Both the rich and the poor are targets of terrorists and one doesn’t feel pain and fear more or less than the other. They are PEOPLE.

    • Anybody with a heart feels sorry for people fleeing from their own country. Unfortunately you can’t run a country with only thinking from your heart we are a large dry Island with large unemployment. We need to find a way to provide water to open up our country until than we just have to keep doing what we are doing. Did the Australians flee Australia during WW2 or did they stay and fight for their country. I don’t knoiw what the answer is.

    • Cheryl until the Abbot government took over we had extremely low, envied unemployment. Really your comparison to Australia in the 2nd WW is absolutely ridiculous. Don’t recall thousands upon thousands of Australians on home soil being tortured, blown up, punished for free speech, starving, homeless etc etc That’s right lets just keep doing what we are doing – no better than those they fled. Not in my name!

      1 REPLY
    • Coralie, if our unemployment was so low why did the Qld Labor Government of Beattie & Bligh see the need to employ thousands of extra public servants in duplicate positions, to hide the unemployment figures?

    • How do you know that Sharon? No one would risk their lives and the lives of their children for nothing.

    • Has anyone noticed that the majority of “boat people” are men. I wonder where the women and children are. I have no objection to genuine refugees but if you want to come to this country then accept our laws and don’t expect us to change for you.

    • Coralie Rae Broadhurst Coralie Rae Broadhurst I think ther was just as high unemployment when the Labor Government was in unempoyment will go up while we are bringing refugees into this country as for WW2 I think Austrlian Soliders were starved beaten put in hell ships sent to work in mines in Japan. Darwin was bombed and the NT and NTHQld. Rations for food and clothing was a done thing. frree speech Luckly we won the war.

    • All we ask for is please respect our countries, cultures and religions. Also respect our code of dress. If you want to be a citizen of a western civilised country then you are going to have to leave all your archaic beliefs and customs, burkhas, child brides etc.behind. Tnjey have no place in western Society.

  5. As a sixties migrant from a peaceful country to another peaceful country just for a better life and was supported and welcomed I can’t understand how so many are shunning these desperate people .. we need to share our world help them find refuge and peace.

    9 REPLY
    • Ignorance. Whenever I heard bigotry I would ask that person “have you even met that aboriginal/asian/muslim? Have you ever had a conversation or had a meal with them? You might learn they are just like you except they might not have your prejudices. I have been shown bigotry because I am Australian (by Americans) because I am deaf, because I am considered old. How much worse for others?

    • Their mindset is not like anyone elses. To feel they have the right to make you convert or die? It’s not bigotry if it’s true! It’s not islamophobia (made up word) to fear something that is actually happening. If you want to be at their mercy, go right ahead. Not something I want for my descendants. We should be welcoming those fleeing from this insanity, not the perpetrators!

    • Well said Francoise Saint-Cyr, how can we turn our backs on people who are fleeing those we call enemies?

    • I’m not playing with words – just saying it like it is. I do not understand how you can see what’s going on and not get it!

    • You can kid yourselves all you like, once they’re here they’re not on your side. They are on the side of islam, not anything else.

    • Helen, do you mean in the same way that Christians threw people to the lions, or killed people for being witches, or protected child abusers. That’s our religion…right? There are extremists in EVERY religion. if these people are terrorists, why are they fleeing their own country ? Maybe they’re terrified of the extremists!!

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  7. How come middle east “refugees” have money to to buy passage from people smugglers

    2 REPLY
    • Maybe they have every cent they own with them when they flee ? And so they give it ALL to the smuggler who promises them safety and a new life ? Tell me you wouldn’t do that to save your family – if you say no, I DON’T believe you.
      Who have we become that we turn our backs on any one of these desperate people ? If any of you that agree with this policy call yourselves Christian, you should be ashamed.

    • Good grief Neil, do you think only the poor are targeted, feel fear and pain? What on earth does money have to do with it? Doctors are fleeing, scientists are fleeing, farmers are fleeing. They all need support. The ignorance is startling.

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