Saturday, July 13, 2024

Turkey arrests 67 after mob attacks Syrian properties

Turkey arrests 67 after mob attacks Syrian properties
July 1, 2024 Web Desk

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) - Turkish police were holding 67 people Monday after a mob went on the rampage in a central Anatolian city after a Syrian man was accused of harassing a child.

A group of men targeted Syrian businesses and properties in Kayseri on Sunday evening, with videos on social media showing a grocery store being set on fire. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the latest bout of violence against Turkey's large community of Syrian refugees.

"No matter who they are, setting streets and people's houses on fire is unacceptable," he said, warning that hate speech should not be used for political gains. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said the Syrian national, identified only by his initials as I.A., was caught by Turkish citizens and delivered to the police.

Yerlikaya said on X that the Syrian man was suspected of harassing a Syrian girl, who was his relative. He said Turks who gathered in the area acted "illegally" and in a manner "that does not suit our human values", damaging houses, shops and cars belonging to Syrians.

Sixty-seven people were detained after the attacks, he said. "Turkey is a state of law and order. Our security forces continue their fight against all crimes and criminals today, as they did yesterday." In one of the videos a Turkish man was heard shouting: "We don't want any more Syrians! We don't want any more foreigners."

Local authorities called for calm and revealed the victim was a five-year-old Syrian national. Turkey, which hosts some 3.2 million Syrian refugees, has been shaken several times by bouts of xenophobic violence in recent years, often triggered by rumours spreading on social media and instant messaging applications.

In August 2021, groups of men targeted businesses and homes occupied by Syrians in the capital Ankara, after a brawl which cost the life of a 18-year-old man. The fate of Syrian refugees is also a burning issue in Turkish politics, with Erdogan's opponents in last year's election promising to send them back to Syria.