Food for Thought

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This is a photo of Albanians fleeing Albania for Italy during the collapse of Albania’s communist regime in 1991. A series of images making their way around the web show huge numbers of people piling onto some rusty, rickety ships. The description often accompanying the image suggests that these are Syrian (or Libyan)refugees headed for Europe, with sinister suggestions for what that implies.

In a recent Facebook post by someone named Ahmet Aykac, the caption reads, “These aren’t Syrians; they are Europeans trying to get to North Africa during the world war…So, next time you think of closing borders you might want to check with your grandparents..”

In September 2016, a blogger looked into the matter more carefully and said, “That’s an interesting explanation, but something still didn’t quite seem right…I did some googling and found the same caption on a picture on Imgur. A commenter noted that the picture is not from WWII, but actually from 1991. Another Imgur album from almost a year ago (i.e. before the current refugee crisis) shows the same pictures.

“So now we have an initial incorrect use of these photos, and an incorrect (albeit well-intentioned, perhaps) rebuttal. These are not Syrian refugees going to Europe, nor are they European refugees escaping from Europe. These are European refugees going to a different part of Europe. Specifically, these are Albanians fleeing Albania for Italy during the collapse of Albania’s communist regime in 1991.”

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