Amid a rising number of hate crimes targeting refugees in Turkey, a group of unidentified assailants wearing police uniforms raided an İstanbul apartment where several young Syrian refugee men were living and killed a 19-year-old refugee in the early hours of Tuesday, Turkish media reported.
The victim, Naif Elnaif, was stabbed to death while asleep by the attackers, who entered the apartment in Bayrampaşa with clubs and knives. Elnaif was pronounced dead in an ambulance on his way to a hospital. His flat mates told Turkish media that they didn’t know any of the assailants, were shocked over the death of their friend and had decided to return to Syria.
Five people have been detained in connection to the murder.
Freelance journalist Maaz İbrahimoğlu tweeted that he talked to the relatives of the Syrian man and they told him, based on witness accounts, that the attackers were pretending to be police officers, wearing police uniforms and face masks, and disabled the security cameras in the building before raiding the apartment.
Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD) released a statement on Tuesday calling on Turkish authorities to conduct an effective investigation into Elnaif’s murder, identify the attackers and bring them to justice.
The association also said there have been many hate crimes targeting refugees in the first 10 days of 2022 across the country; hence, authorities should act urgently to take measures to stop other incidents.
“There is also a need for a strong public awareness for the prevention of racism. We call on everyone to fight against racism,” added the association.
Refugees in Turkey have been increasingly targeted by hate speech and hate crimes and are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic troubles.
In yet another incident on Sunday, a mob attacked the properties of Syrian refugees in İstanbul’s Esenyurt district. Images shared on social media show the mob throwing rocks at stores and entering through broken windows, shouting, “This is Turkey.”
The İstanbul Governor’s Office issued a statement on Monday saying a group of nearly 40 people had attacked the properties of Syrians following a dispute between two men. After a police investigation seven people, including four minors, were detained, and the police were looking for the rest of the perpetrators.
Turkish media including pro-government and opposition outlets fuel and exploit the flames of hatred against people who fled their countries and sought refuge in Turkey.
Anti-migrant sentiment has also been expressed by opposition politicians. Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has promised to send Syrians back home if his party comes to power.
According to the latest figures provided by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on November 22, Turkey is home to a total of 4,038,857 refugees from around the world. Speaking to parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee, Soylu said 3,731,028 of these were Syrian refugees who are residing in Turkey under temporary protection status. The number of refugees with international protection status is 307,829.