Drowned Syrian toddler’s father says media was right to publish photo

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The father of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan al-Kurdi said in an interview published Saturday that it was appropriate for news organizations to run photos showing his son lying dead on a Turkish beach.

“People must not look away from the terrible things happening on the way to Europe just because we cannot get a visa,” Abdullah al-Kurdi told Germany’s Bild newspaper.

Aylan drowned in early September with his 5-year-old brother and their mother off Turkey as they were trying to make the sea crossing to Greece.

The pictures of Aylan appeared on newspaper front pages around the globe, highlighting the scale of the humanitarian crisis created by the Syrian civil war. The conflict has forced more than 4 million people to flee abroad.

The images brought new focus to the debate in Europe about whether governments are doing enough to get a grip on the refugee crisis, but they also sparked conversation about the ethics of sharing and printing them.

Speaking from the northern Iraqi town of Erbil, al-Kurdi said he can only look at the photos “very briefly” before he is overwhelmed with emotion.

The al-Kurdis are Syrian Kurds from Kobane, a city near the border with Turkey that was under siege by the Islamic State extremist group last year, forcing thousands to flee.

The bodies of the three al-Kurdi family members who perished in the Mediterranean were buried in Kobane.

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