The Aylan Kurdi protest being called "tasteless," "sick" and "very wrong".

Trigger warning: This post contains a graphic image of a little boy’s body. Mamamia has decided to share a censored version of the image because it is too easy to forget that this is the reality many children face as they’re caught up in the refugee crisis. 

Earlier this month, the body of three-year-old Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach after the boat in which has family had tried to seek refuge, capsized.

Photos of Aylan’s tiny body lying face-down in the sand sent shockwaves throughout the world.

The tragic images drew attention to the plight of men, women and children fleeing the horrors of the Syrian conflict, and prompted candlelit vigils and policy discussions across both Europe and Australia. (Read more about Australia’s response to the image here.)

Aylan kurdi morocco protest
The tragic image that sent shockwaves across the globe. (Image: Twitter)

But one unusual tribute to the little boy has raised a few eyebrows this week — because it’s unclear whether it actually honoured the little boy, or disrespected him.

The tribute involved 30 activists and journalists, dressed in Aylan’s final outfit of a red t-shirt, blue shorts and sneakers, lying face-down on the sand.


They were imitating the toddler’s infamous ‘death pose’ — the heartbreakingly vulnerable position in which his lifeless, limp body was found on that Turkish beach.

Related: Read more about that Aylan Kurdi photo here.

While you might assume the activists’ stunt had a worthy agenda —  a call to action on a particular policy, or a fundraiser for refugee causes, for example — it appears to have been merely a “gesture” or an “artistic protest”.

Meaning, in other words, that the point of these healthy, living adults reenacting a three-year-old’s death was not entirely clear.

The move was organised by Moroccan actress Latifa Ahrar, who told MailOnline: “As an artist, my duty is to react and to come here with my colleagues to say that a small gesture can be worth a lot.”

Journalist Rachid el-Belghiti suggested that there was a political message, albeit a rather general one, behind the protest.

“We are here to say that the Mediterranean should remain a space for sharing and exchanges, not a barrier for those who are victims of dictatorships, civil wars and terrorism,” she told MailOnline.

A number of commenters on Twitter, Facebook and online news sites that have reported the tribute have questioned the value of the bizarre protest.

“It’s tasteless, bordering on VERY WRONG,” one online commenter wrote.

“That is sick,” another weighed in.

Twitter user BlueSide described the act as “terminal and offensive stupidity”.

Some more online reactions:

Aylan died alongside and his brother Galip, five, and their 35-year-old mother Rehan as they desperately attempted to flee war-torn Syria for the Greek island of Kos.

Four men have been charged over the death or at least 12 people in connection with the boating tragedy.

What do you think of the protest?

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