Thursday, December 29, 2016


So we’ve managed to follow somewhat the heartwarming yet sorrowful but also dangerous journey of young Bana Alabed, whose Twitter updates on life in besieged eastern Aleppo over at Syria has held the rapt attention of hundreds upon thousands of followers all over the world. We were touched with her when JK Rowling sent her a gift of “Harry Potter” novels in eBook form, and we feared for the safety of her family when the regime forces of President Bashar Al-Assad began securing swathes of rebel-held Aleppo where they lived. Thanks to a ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia these anti government fighters and the local residents have been evacuated from the war zone, Bana and her family among them. We wondered when we’ll hear from her again.

Now we come to the next step in young Bana’s adventure, and it’s taken her from Syria to the Turkish capital of Ankara where, as The Daily Mail tells it, the Twitter girl from Aleppo met the one who orchestrated the chain of events that have led the Alabeds to safety: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. This momentous occasion of sorts took place Wednesday December 21 at the Presidential Palace, and the strongman showed off a softer side of himself when he accepted an eager hug from Bana as greeting. Sitting on a state chair with Bana and one of her brothers on his lap, flanked on both by his wife First Lady Emine Erdogan and the Alabed parents with their other son, he looked a far cry from the powerful figure he cut to the press ever since his government put down a coup attempt earlier this year.

While seated on the Turkish President’s lap, Bana spoke on behalf of her family, “Thank you for the help in saving the children of Aleppo from the war. I love you very much.” Her statement was picked up by media and cameras flashed as she gave the 62-year- old Erdogan a peck on the cheek. The President himself remarked on the event on his official Twitter account: “I was pleased to host and her family at the Presidential Complex today. Turkey will always stand with the people of Syria.”

Bana and her mother Fatemah co-wrote on the Twitter page in Bana’s name ever since September, and while their words and pictures generated a great deal of sympathy for them and Aleppo as a whole, the Assad regime condemned them as collaborating with the rebels as propaganda. Upon successfully evacuating, the Alabed family went under the care of Turkish officials who then took them to Erdogan in Ankara. While Turkey has been providing for Syrian refugees on camps close to their mutual borders, only Bana’s family has been given an open invitation to live in their country thus far.

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