Bana Alabed the seven-year-old Syrian girl who captured the imagination of Western media with her appeals from inside besieged Aleppo has met Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Alabed’s posts, overseen by her English-teacher mother, frequently attacked the government of Bashar Assad whom Erdogan wants overthrown.
Because of her outspoken critiques and of her numerous calls for action among the world’s leaders to put a stop to the Syrian civil war, she was accused of being a propaganda tool, particularly in pro-Russian media.
I can’t & we can’t all be happy until all the remaining people who want to leave are evacuated from East Aleppo. – Fatemah— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) December 20, 2016
The authenticity of her social media presence has been frequently questioned although this article by fact-checker Bellingcat rejects the most common claims.
Alabed and her family were feared dead or captured by pro-Assad troops when in early December her Twitter account unexpectedly went offline. Her Twitter account, to the relief of her 353,000 followers resurfaced on Dec. 12.
She is thought to have been evacuated from the city on Dec. 19.
Alabed Tweeted about daily life in the city and she and her family became a symbol of the suffering of thousands of people in east Aleppo. And yet, some cannot shake the feeling Alabed, along with several other social media activists, is part of a deliberate media campaign to shape opinions and the narrative of what was taking place in the besieged city.
“final messages” in #Aleppo (— 🇮🇶 ابراهيم الشاهد (@ibrahimshahed2) December 15, 2016
Mr_Alhamdo</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Linashamy">Linashamy
BilalKareem</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AlabedBana">AlabedBana)
IntheNow_tweet</a> by <a href="https://twitter.com/AnissaNow">AnissaNowpic.twitter.com/Lc85RkdxvD
In her meeting with President Erdogan, Alabed thanked his efforts to evacuate the civilians from the stricken city.
“I was very much afraid,” Alabed said to Erdogan in Arabic. “I was afraid for my family. I was afraid they could die. Because we were under bombardment every day. We were afraid of dying.”
Then, switching to English she says: “I would like to thank you for supporting the children of Aleppo and help us to get out from war.