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Ukraine War & Refugees: Human Suffering Has No Colour

Don’t you feel that your heart breaks when you see destruction, war and people fleeing from their homes?

We all watch as the events in Ukraine unfold and we feel deep sympathy with the people going through this horrendous and terrifying situation.  Islam tells us that we should always stand against the oppressor. It is stated in the Quran:

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both.” Quran 4:135. 

However, have you noticed the media’s narrative regarding what is being said about the Ukrainian refugees compared to what was said about refugees coming from Africa, Syria, and Iraq?

Ukraine War & Refugees: Human Suffering Has No Colour

CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata said: “This isn’t a place, with all due respect, you know, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades, you know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European… city.” He later apologized but the damage has been done.

He wasn’t the only one either. The outpouring of sympathy by other news outlets describing the Ukrainian refugees as “white”, “Christian”, and “middle class” was plain for all to see. 

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Cast your minds back to a few months ago when the British press was calling the refugees in Calais, “economic migrants”.

He wasn’t saying anything new, but  narrative was that they shouldn’t be allowed to come to the UK. Some of them actually drowned in the English Channel while trying to get to the UK, a very pitiful incident which sparked a blame game between the UK and France as to who should have stopped the migrants from crossing the Channel. 

Now go further back to 2015 when Syrian and Iraqi refugees were trying to come to Europe, fleeing the bombs and destructions in their war-torn countries. Do you remember how did the media portray them? The narrative was that” the men should stay and fight for their countries”, despite the fact that many did and many would have also been in grave danger had they stayed. 

Now we can see clearly how the media portrayal of wars and conflicts is completely biased based on skin colour, whereas the truth of the matter is that human suffering has no colour.

It doesn’t matter if you are black, brown or white; no blood is cheaper than another. Yet that is how it looks as we read and watch the media coverage of the war in Ukraine which has triggered the influx of refugees into neighbouring countries. 

Ukraine War & Refugees: Human Suffering Has No Colour

On the other hand, when people from Africa or the Middle East try to escape wars and conflicts in their regions, thus turning them into forced migrants and refugees, not many are prepared to share the sympathy of their plight. They are seen differently.

It is seen as though it is perfectly OK for conflicts to happen in the Middle East because they have been happening there for a long time. But in most cases, the West is actually to blame for these conflicts and that is what we have to remember. 

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Of course, we cannot forget the good gestures thousands of these refugees received from many European countries, such as Germany, welcoming embracing and providing them with new homes. Germany alone accepted over 1 million refugees between 2015-2016; so also Canada which has led the way in their refugee program to help Syrians resettle into their new country; 25,000 Syrian refugees were welcomed in Canada and they have started new lives there. 

On the other hand, to pretend that Europe has hardly seen any war is a big joke. Europe has seen two world wars, the Spanish civil war and the Yugoslav civil wars in the 20th century alone. Two holocausts happened on European soil in the 20th century, ethnic cleansing took place twice!

Do we really need to talk about the civilization of one continent compared to another? The whole reason for conflict and misery in Africa and parts of the Middle East can be traced somehow to the neocolonialism agenda of European countries and the so-called superpowers.

Whilst we stand with the people of Ukraine and do not wish to see the suffering they are going through, we must also speak out against the media bias against refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Humans are humans no matter where they are from and the color of their skin. No blood is worth less than another.

There is nothing civilized about war for whatever reason. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are located, human suffering is a tragedy no matter what. 

About Nichola Taylor
Nichola Taylor, BA (HONS) European Studies, mother, student of Islamic Studies.