The Syrian Mother’s Plea Video
With an introduction from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball, the Senior National Coordinator for counter terrorism policing, this short film focuses on three Syrian refugee mothers speaking directly to mothers in the UK about the realities of life in Syria and asking why any mother would want to take their family to live in a war zone. It is complemented by open letters (below) that the women have written urging mothers in this country to take steps to prevent their daughters from travelling to Syria.
The Open Letters
Letter From Faten
My name is Faten, I came with my family to the UK from Syria because our lives were in danger, It is not safe in my country and the situation is getting worse every day – that is why we took the hard decision to leave, to escape the war that is tearing Syria apart.
The things that you take for granted everyday in this country are things we cannot do in Syria. The reality of life in my country means that just going out of the house brings danger – people feel they have to disguise their roots, change the way they dress so that they are not treated badly just because of their religion. My husband and I were threatened just leaving our home to take our son to hospital for treatment he badly needed. My husband’s brother got arrested for no reason. This was our reality.
I would like to say to mothers here in the UK please don’t take the risk that you might wake up one day and find your daughter has fled to Syria. It could be the last time you ever see her, talk to her or see her face. Talk to her about the reality of life in a country torn apart by war, how different it will be to the image that is being portrayed.
Please help your daughter to understand that she may think she is helping the Syrian people by travelling to our country, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. She will just be making it harder for our friends, our families – all the people we have had to leave behind.
Letter From Esaaf
When I hear about young women who are travelling to Syria to join ISIS I am sad because I know that this will bring no benefit to my people and only unhappiness for the young women who wrongly believe they have a future in my country.
I left Syria because the truth is that there is no future for my country. That is why I came here to the UK as I wanted to know what it feels like to be safe again, to have security for myself and my children.
What is happening in my country is very complicated and so many innocent men, women and children have been killed.
Taking a gun to a fight does not solve a problem. The power required is far more than guns – they are just prolonging the war that is destroying my homeland.
If I could put myself in a young Muslim girl’s shoes I would say to myself – I live in a peaceful, developed country. Why would I want to go to Syria where ISIS are taking people back hundreds of years. They are preventing people from educating themselves, making them illiterate. My sister told me of a family where all the women – including a four year old girl – were forced to wear full coverings. They were not allowed to walk by themselves, or do anything by themselves. This is not the Syria I know.
I say to mothers, if your daughter wants to help please encourage her to do so here in the UK – by supporting charities, and helping refugees – people like us who have had to flee our country to a place of safety. Here is where, as a true Muslim, she can make a real, and practical difference.
My message to young women is think about yourself, and your future. rather than go to Syria and face arrest, torture, or even death – the prospect of never being able to come home, build your future here where you have freedom and opportunity.
Letter From Zakaa
I left Syria because I feared for my three sons’ lives after my husband was killed by a sniper. With the very real risk of innocent people like ourselves being arrested or kidnapped and my young son suffering from leukaemia, I took the decision to leave my homeland, travelling first to Egypt and then onto the UK.
Please tell your daughter my story so that she can understand that Syria is a dangerous place to live and no place to bring up children. Ask your daughter to think about what she has here in the UK – a country where she has safety and freedom of choice compared to Syria where, under ISIS control, she would have neither?
ISIS is far from the views of Islam. They do not follow Islam and they are not Muslims. ISIS is more feared by Syrians than the Assad regime itself.
Your daughter should ask herself – ISIS came out of nowhere. How did this organisation suddenly appear with so much support in the blink of an eye? ISIS is not in any way helping Syrians – their only achievements are killing and displacement. They have only damaged our country and caused more harm for innocent Syrian people.
Any Syrian man or woman would tell you that there is no need for anyone to come to our country to risk their lives to fight or support the fighting.
Please help your daughter understand that by raising money, working with charities based in the UK she will be providing practical help for Syrian people who desperately need support, including much needed medication. Instead of risking becoming involved in the death of others she will be making a life for someone and showing true Muslim behaviour.
These letters have also been translated.
Youth Online Understanding Radicalisation (YOUR) Survey Report
An anonymous national online survey carried out by National Counter Terrorism policing explores broader issues around how young people could be affected by radicalisation and travel to areas of conflict. To read the full report please click here.