The headlines have been Eurocentric this week with the intensifying refugee crisis and Britain coming under pressure to fight ISIS on Syrian ground. Here’s what’s been going on and what it means.
The refugee crisis
Early last Wednesday morning, the body of Syrian 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi was discovered washed up on a shore in Turkey. Images of the drowned toddler lying lifeless on the sand flooded media outlets, sparking fury and heartbreak worldwide. Since then, calls for European leaders to address the situation and avoid further tragedy have grown deafening. Austria welcomed approximately 10,000 people over the border from Hungary on Saturday, and reportedly do not plan to limit the number of asylum seekers to their country. Amidst the chaos and the public outrage, German citizens gave a heart-warming display of humanity last week when Munich authorities had to ask for donations to refugee shelters to stop as they already had more than they could handle. Meanwhile, UK leaders come under fire after David Cameron announced that Britain would take 20,000 refugees – by the end of 2020. As of Tuesday evening, a UK government petition to accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugees has garnered 432,369 signatures.
David Cameron orders targeted airstrikes
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is the subject of scrutiny once again after he announced on Monday that two British jihadists had been killed in a targeted airstrike by the Royal Air Force. On Sunday, The Guardian reported that Cameron was coming under pressure from his political peers to extend military effort to fight Islamic State in Syria. The Prime Minister has previously said that such action would take a genuine consensus among parliament. However, Cameron claimed that the assassination of British ISIS members Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin didn’t call for parliament discussion – that it was justified as self-defense as Khan was believed to have been of “imminent threat” to Britain. The moral and legal implications of the strike have come into question, and UK human rights group Rights Watch is undertaking legal action to investigate the government’s actions.
Islamophobia on the rise in London
The Metropolitan Police have revealed that Anti-Islamic hate crime has risen by 70% in London in the past 12 months. According to figures collected between Julys of this year and last, 816 aggressive incidents were reported while in the previous year the figure was 478. Around 60% of victims were Muslim women. According to Fiyaz Mughal (speaking for the Islamophobia monitoring organisation Tell MAMA ) this was likely due to the fact that many women wear headscarves or Hijabs, making their faith more noticeable. “We also realised quite early on that women who wear Niqab, the face veil, suffered more aggressive incidents,” said Mughal. “There was something about the face veil that in a way brought out the worst in the perpetrator.” Rachel Holdsworth of The Londonist speculated that the increase could be due to the heavy anti-immigrant rhetoric being perpetrated by many UK politicians and media outlets. She also noted that statistics have reflected that London as a city is becoming notably less tolerant, citing a rise in homophobic and Anti-Semitic hate crime, too. Holdsworth asks, quite rightly – “What is wrong with people?”
And in other news…
This week Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch of England, having held the throne for a record 63 years (and counting!)
The film poster for Tom Hardy’s Legend has been making the rounds on Twitter due to some cheeky, creative marketing. Benjamin Lee for The Guardian pointed out that his 2-star review was strategically placed on the poster to make it seem he’d granted the film 4-stars. In any case, they certainly got plenty of free advertising out of it!
Two five-year old boys pulled a Shawshank-style escape from a nursery in Russia this week. The pair had been using toy spades to secretly dig a tunnel under the school fence, and eventually slipped away while their class went on a walk. Both boys are safe and sound, but the teacher on duty at the time has since been dismissed.
Amazing Grace, a documentary about legendary singer Aretha Franklin, has been banned from the Toronto Film Festival due to legal disputes between Franklin and the film’s producers. Apparently Franklin filed a suit claiming that concert footage was being used without her consent.
Featured image by Horia Varlan.