Istanbul, Turkey – Turkish police have arrested eight suspects in connection with the stabbing and murder of a young Syrian refugee in Istanbul on Monday.
Nail al-Naif, 19, was sleeping in his room in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district when a group of men broke in around 2am, stabbed him in the chest and inflicted wounds on which he died later that night.
According to al-Naif’s friend who visited the crime scene, the attackers, some of them armed, entered the building by claiming they were police.
Eight people, including five Turkish citizens and three Afghans, have been detained by Bayrampasa police as suspects, according to Demiroren News Agency.
The killings are the latest in what refugee rights activists say is a worrying trend violence against refugees in the country.
An 18-year-old Syrian man was stabbed on Tuesday as he was walking in a park in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.
On January 9, a large crowd attacked a shopping mall used by Syrians in the working-class Istanbul neighborhood of Esenyurt, an incident that according to local news reports arose after a Syrian man refused to give a cigarette to a Turkish man to give.
Seven people, including four minors, were detained after the incident, according to the Istanbul governor’s office.
Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of people marching through the neighborhood and chanting “This is Turkey, not Syria” and later trying to attack Syrians inside another mall, damaging the shopping fronts with stones and other objects thrown.
Police in the southwestern city of Izmir said in late December 2021 they had launched 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) – died after a fire broke out on November 16 in the apartment where they were sleeping.
Although police initially said the fire was an accident caused by an electric heater, refugee rights activists pushed them to investigate after it emerged a Turkish man had previously gone to the police to say he going to kill the Syrians.
The following month, police arrested the Turkish suspect who confessed to setting the Syrians on fire.
Turkey is home to more than four million refugees, including more than three million Syrians, whose presence has come under increasing public scrutiny with figures across the political spectrum blaming them for the country’s economic crisis.
A Turkish court has rejected measures against refugees by the mayor of Bolu, a city east of Istanbul, which has been widely criticized for being openly racist.
Last year, Republican Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Tanju Ozcan introduced a policy to charge migrants and refugees in his city $ 2.5 per cubic meter for water, 11 times the usual utility rate and 100,000 Turkish lira for the marriage licenses, which it describes as measures to force Syrians and other migrants and refugees.
Ozcan has since faced censorship by the CHP’s leadership, but similar attempts by political leaders in Turkey to target refugees have continued.
Earlier this month, police in Izmir said they were launching an investigation into Umit Ozdag, leader of the right-wing opposition Zafer Party, for “inciting public hatred” and “invasion of privacy”.
Ozdag, who had previously claimed Syrian refugees were obese while Turks were living in poverty, filmed himself visiting a jewelry store in Izmir, where he confronted the owner – a Syrian of Turkish nationality – and demanded his identification documents and license to carry weapons. .
Later, Ozdag posted the interaction on Twitter, saying the store owner is a danger to Turkey, claiming there are “900,000” others like him in the country.
In another incident, dozens of Syrians, including a prominent journalist, were abducted and deported after Ilay Aksoy, a member of the opposition IYI Party, posted on social media about satirical videos by Syrians about the Turkish economy.
After an online news outlet posted a video of Turks who told a Syrian teenage woman that they could not afford to buy bananas while the Syrians ate them “per kilogram”, some Syrians went to social media to mock the false allegation and film themselves while merely bananas eat.
“The information, given by the IYI Party, or the CHP’s Bolu Mayor, or Umit Ozdag and his Zafer Party, they all come together and make the refugees in one of the main problems in Turkey and some racist organizations or people find it a reason to attack refugees, ”said Yildiz Onen, an activist at Hepimiz Gocmeniz (We Are All Immigrants), a refugee rights group in Turkey.
“I do not think it is individual incidents, it is the political atmosphere in Turkey over the past three or four months that has created these incidents.”
Onen added that she was most concerned that the incidents did not seem to receive sustained attention from authorities or Turkish media, despite what should have been a well-known anti-immigrant issue for Turks, given the pressure that millions of Turkish migrants in the experienced in Germany in the past. .
“When it happens against Turkish people in Germany, there are big protests, political party leaders and the government say things about it, and they go out behind the people responsible,” she said.
“In Turkey, meanwhile, you can see hundreds of people [in the mob] in Esenyurt, but only seven people are arrested. “