How the killing of Syrian refugees marks a worrying trend in Turkey immigration news

Istanbul, Turkey – On Monday, Turkish police detained eight suspects in connection with the assassination of a young Syrian refugee in Istanbul.

Nail al-Naif, 19, was sleeping in his room in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district when a group of men broke in around 2am and stabbed him in the chest, killing him later that night.

According to friends of al-Naif who visited the crime scene, the attackers, some of whom were armed, claimed they were police officers who entered the building.

Eight people, including five Turkish nationals and three Afghans, were detained by police as suspects in Bayrampasa, according to the Demiroren news agency.

The killings are the latest in what refugee rights activists say is a shocking trend violence against refugees domestic.

An 18-year-old Syrian man was stabbed while walking in a park in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Tuesday.

On January 9, a large mob attacked a shopping center used by Syrians in Istanbul’s working-class neighborhood of Esenyurt, which local news reports said was triggered after a Syrian man refused to offer a Turkish man cigarettes. .

Seven people, including four minors, were detained following the incident, according to the Istanbul governor’s office.

Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of people marching nearby, chanting “this is Turkey, not Syria”, before attempting to attack Syrians in another mall, damaging storefronts with thrown stones and other objects.

Police in the southwestern city of Izmir said in December 2021 that they had opened an investigation into the deaths of three Syrian workers in the city after a Turkish man admitted to killing them.

Three young Syrian construction workers – Mamoun al-Nabhan (23), Ahmed al-Ali (21) and Mohammed al-Bish (17) – after a fire broke out in the apartment where they were sleeping on November 16 die.

Although police initially said the fire was caused by an accident with an electric heater, refugee rights activists urged them to investigate after it was discovered that a Turkish man had previously told police he was going to kill the Syrian.

The following month, police detained a Turkish suspect who admitted to setting fire to Syrians.

Turkey hosts more than 4 million refugees, including more than 3 million Syrians, and their presence is gaining public scrutiny, with politicians blaming them for Turkey’s economic crisis.

A Turkish court has rejected an anti-refugee measure by the mayor of Bolu, a city east of Istanbul, that has been widely criticized for being overtly racist.

Last year, the mayor of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Tanju Ozcan instituted a policy to charge migrants and refugees in his city $2.50 per cubic metre for water, 11 times the usual utility bill, and 100,000 Turkish lira marriage fee. permit, describing it as a measure to force the departure of Syrians and other migrants and refugees.

Ozkan has faced condemnation from CHP leadership since then, but similar attempts by Turkish political leaders to target refugees continue.

Earlier this month, Izmir police said they were opening an investigation into Umit Ozdag, the leader of the right-wing opposition Zafir party, for “inciting public hatred” and “invading privacy”.

Ozdag has claimed that Syrian refugees are obese, while Turks live in poverty.

Later, Ozdag tweeted the interaction, calling the shop owner a threat to Turkey and claiming that there are “900,000” people like him in the country.

In another incident, dozens of Syrians, including a prominent journalist, were rounded up and faced deportation after Ilay Aksoy, a member of the opposition IYI party, posted a satirical video on social media complaining Syrians about Turkey’s economy.

after an online news outlet posted a video After Turks told a Syrian teenage girl they couldn’t afford bananas and Syrians were eating them “by the kilo”, some Syrians on social media mocked the false claim, filming themselves just eating bananas.

“Information given by the IYI party or CHP’s Mayor of Bolu or Umit Ozdag and his Zafer party, they all came together to make refugees one of the main problems in Turkey, some racist groups or people think it’s a reason to attack refugees,” said Yildiz Onen, an activist with the Turkish refugee rights group Hepimiz Gocmeniz (We Are All Migrants).

“I don’t think these are isolated incidents, the political climate in Turkey over the past three or four months has caused them.”

Onen added that, given the pressure millions of Turkish migrants have faced in Germany in the past, she is most concerned that these events do not seem to have received sustained attention from the authorities or the Turkish media, even though it should be a familiar anti-immigration issue to Turks. .

“When it happens to the Turkish people in Germany, there are massive demonstrations, party leaders and the government speak out about it, and they go after those responsible,” she said.

“In Turkey, meanwhile, you can see hundreds of people [in the mob] In Esenyurt, but only 7 people were arrested. “