Imran Chohan

Imran Chohan

The nation is mourning its lost sons and daughters who not for the first time have perished trying to reach Europe in promise of a better life. If reports are to be believed, over 400 migrants from Somaliland, Somalia and Ethiopia recently drowned in the Mediterranean after their boats capsized trying to reach Europe from Egypt. The reports, however, are yet to be confirmed either by officials from Egypt or any other neighbouring Mediterranean country.

This latest tragedy confirmed or not has wiped the smile off the faces of many, and the mood across the nation from Awdal to Togdheer is as sombre as it can be. Parents have lost their brightest hopes, children have been orphaned, husbands and wives have been separated forever, and friends have lost their companions. It is painful, it is sad, it is devastating ― no parent deserves to see their children die and nothing justifies the death of a child fleeing home for a better life.

For now, as in our Islamic tradition we say Ilaahay Ha u naxariisto to our fellow brothers, sisters and children and samiir iyo iimaan to the bereaved. However, it will be utterly criminal and a betrayal of the memories of the departed to let this scourge continue ― the ugly beast that is Taharib fuelled by incurable malaise in the name of Bufis. Let us not forget that by nature the human memory is short-lived, and for this reason, we must not allow ourselves to forget this tragedy.

As we mourn our dead, let us remember that this is not time to point fingers at each other, but at the same time, we must acknowledge this is a collective failure. A failure that has been going on for so long, a failure which we only reflect on when a disaster strikes, a failure at all levels, a failure so spectacular.

But we must change. As a community we have to rethink our ways, we need to adopt new attitudes, we must have faith in our own nation, we have to confront the concocted lies about the better life in the West. The young people of this country not only need guidance and help, but they also need inspiration ― they need to be made to believe in their homeland. Individuals, families, the state, civic organisations, the media, our imams we all have a role to play. Above all, we must try to carve opportunities for our young people and provide them with education and jobs here in their homeland. We have to make young people learn how to listen again, but first we must be able to convince them that there is no better place than home.

Our community in the diaspora must take a lead in correcting the misinformation. These young people are risking everything to join them under the grey and gloomy skies across the Mediterranean. Yet, have they been made aware that Europe is in the midst of a long-running economic crisis? That the worst migrant crisis since Second World War has totally changed tolerance towards immigrants? That discrimination and racism are rife? Are these young people aware of the lengthy processing of asylum applications which in most cases are refused? Surely they are not ready to waste their youth let alone risk their lives for nothing. The truth is that life in Europe is not as rosy at it seems on the social media, this is in fact a scandal which has been romanticised to a fault. This lie of a better life in foreign lands has to come to and end.

Dispatching our children to the ill-equipped boats is tantamount to sending them to the gallows. We must not let them down, we must not let this happen again.