Civic Imagination

Katur Kati

Katur Kati is 19 years old. He comes from Syria and because of the local conflicts, that have already reached international dimensions, he was forced to flee his home city. Katur has five siblings and he was the first to flee, all by himself, all alone. During his journey he was dependent on information that was shared by human traffickers on social networks. They told him where to be at what time and charged an incredible and outrageous amount of money for trafficking the refugees to a “safe harbor”. Sometimes those traffickers had an agreement with the police though and just took the money and extradited the refugees. It happened many times that other refugees had been betrayed like that.
Just like many other refugees Katur tried to flee through the Mediterranean Sea to go to Greece. He almost drowned two times because the boat was overfilled with people. The traffickers put as many people as possible on the boat, with no lifesaving preservations or anything like that. The first time the boat collapsed and many refugees died and only few survived. He told me that there was a woman, who tried to flee with her three daughters to go to Germany. The woman was in the sea and only had one life jacket. It could not carry the weight of four people. He told me that the woman was struggling, forcing to make a decision which ones of her 6, 9 and 12 year old daughters she should rescue. But she could not make a decision so she just waited and waited to see what will happen. The first daughter drowned immediately and then after a few minutes her second daughter let go. Only the 12 year old girl and her mother could rescue themselves.
It took Katur several months to get to Austria. His asylum claim had been approved and his brother undertook the same journey a few months after.
Many times we do not know what the migration crisis mean, why people are fleeing, what war means and what risk they are taking to get to a safe place. If you look at their individual stories though, listen to them; feel with them you get an insight into what it means for them to flee from their home country and how bad the current situation actually is.

The story is not fictional it is a real stroy. I sat down with the refugee Katur to give him one of the regular German classes. After a whlie, I had also gotten to know him a little better by then, and one time I asked him about his journey. Before I heard the story I had not really had an idea of what kind of risk these people are taking in order to get to a safe place. It was all in the media how dangerous the route through the Mediterranean Sea is but if you have not heard an individual story you don't really have an approach to the impact or meaning. I have shared the story with many people, friends and family. It is one story where everyone is in silence for a while.

The language used in media to represent refugees and asylum seekers plays a vital role in shaping the audience’s opinion. Words used in connection with mass migration such as invasion, flood, swarm, bogus or a batch of immigrants , mass influx or mass exodus, deluge etc. are terms with negative or dehumanizing connotations . They convey a hostile tone and create fear which does not enable people to think rationally and calmly about the situation any more. This type of language is pejorative and degrading.
In addition to these expressions the term “illegal” is frequently used in connection with asylum seekers. The notion of illegality strongly conveys the idea that something or somebody is a danger to the public. Other stigmatizing expressions in connection with the refugee crisis are terms like inmates and detention camps. All of these things are happening and I think if we heard and payed more attention to such individual stories we will be able to think more out of the box and be critical towards what we read and see in the media. I shared the story because all of my friends now have a different approach to the migration process that we are currently facing.

It is a movie about the refugee crisis called Mediterranea

Religion, Migration, Media, Media Literacy, Emotions, Empathy, Understanding, Compassion, Anger, Fear, Love


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