4-Year-Old Syrian Girl Instinctively Raises Hands In Surrender When Photographer Lifts His Camera

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 
Image via DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

These are the children we are turning our backs on with Trump’s refugee ban

As parents, there are certain things we try to make instinctual for our kids. Cover your mouth when you cough. Sneeze into your hands. Say excuse me if you bump in to someone. Imagine if one of those things needed to be, raise your hand in surrender if you see a gun.

No four-year-old should instinctively raise her hand if she thinks she sees a gun. And yet, this image went viral years ago for just that: a young Syrian girl “surrendering” to a photographer whose camera she mistook for a gun.

The image was taken at the Atmeh refugee camp in Syria, in 2014. The BBC reported the little girl travelled to the camp with her mother and two siblings. They travelled 9o miles from their home in Hama to get there.

“I was using a telephoto lens, and she thought it was a weapon,” the photographer who snapped the picture, Osman Sağırlı, told the BBC. “İ realised she was terrified after I took it, and looked at the picture, because she bit her lips and raised her hands. Normally kids run away, hide their faces or smile when they see a camera.”

“You know there are displaced people in the camps,” he said.”It makes more sense to see what they have suffered not through adults, but through children. It is the children who reflect the feelings with their innocence.”

Right now, our country is divided into two groups: those who think Trump’s immigration ban is something that will actually protect us, and those who think it’s a gross violation of everything America stands for. “Trump put all processing of refugees on hold for three months and suspended the vetting of Syrian refugees indefinitely,” Politifact reports. Trump’s order to close our border to Syrians “indefinitely” will be added to the list of our country’s biggest shames.

Last year, an image of a young Syrian boy whose body washed up on shore after he drowned went viral. Looking at it, I remember wanting to scoop him up like I would one of my own children, and carry him off to his bed for a nap. But the child is not breathing. The 3-year-old is a casualty of the Syrian civil war, and he drowned along with his 5-year-old brother and mother as they tried to flee to safety.

Look at him. Look at him. This is how desperate some families are to flee their countries and save their children — that they would risk their lives for the smallest chance to escape the bloodshed. We are turning our backs on children. And the arbitrary reasoning behind why we are refusing to help refugees, and closing our borders to immigrants from certain countries simply makes no sense.

The seven countries Trump’s ban includes are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. “The reason they ended up on that list is because government officials have said ongoing terrorist training takes place there,” reports Politifact. “The order makes reference to the 9/11 attacks and blocking entry for those who engage in ‘honor killings.'” Oddly, 15 of the 19 men who carried out the attacks on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia — a country not included in the ban. The others were from United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon — also not included.

Simply put, Trump’s Muslim ban excludes countries with which he does business. “These countries, unlike those subject to the ban, are ones where Donald Trump has done business. In Saudi Arabia, his most recent government financial disclosure revealed several limited liability Trump corporations,” reports The New York Times. “In Egypt, he had two Trump companies registered. In the United Arab Emirates, he had licensed his name to a Dubai golf resort and a luxury residential development and spa.”

This is vile. Don’t “send prayers” or say your heart is broken when you see images of struggling or dead children like the ones above, if you support closing our borders to them. We threw a shrewd, crooked, businessman with no morality into the highest position of power in our country. He’s surrounded himself with like-minded folks with no experience. It’s showing in this baseless, Islamophobic ban.

These are fathers. Mothers. Families. Humans. When we let fear inform our decisions, or worse, blind us to injustice — we are on the wrong side of history. And I don’t want to explain that to my children.


Note: Trump has said his ban is similar to an action Obama took in 2011. It’s not.

From “The Obama administration conducted a review in 2011 of the vetting procedures applied to citizens of a single country (Iraq) and then only to refugees and applicants for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), created by Congress to help Iraqis (and later Afghans) who supported the United States in those conflicts. The Trump executive order, on the other hand, applies to seven countries with total population more than 130 million, and to virtually every category of immigrant other than diplomats, including tourists and business travelers.”

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