14-year-old Syrian boy stabbed to death in Turkey in alleged hate crime

Photo credit: Kronos News

A 14-year-old Syrian boy was killed in an alleged hate crime on his way to work on October 20, in Turkey’s central province of Konya, the Kronos news website reported.

Vail El Mansur was a refugee in Turkey and worked for a tailor. He was on his way to work with his brother Abdurrahim El Mansur, whose workplace was in the same vicinity. The boys were getting off a tram when they were confronted by a group of youngsters. The group allegedly insulted the two brothers.

The verbal confrontation quickly turned into a heated argument and then into a fight. The brothers tried to get away by running into an alley; however, they were unable to outrun the group, and Vail El Mansur was stabbed in the chest. He died of his injuries in the hospital.

Syrian 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.

According to the “Hate Speech and Discriminatory Discourse in Media 2019 Report,” published by the Hrant Dink Foundation, Syrian refugees in Turkey were the second most targeted group in the Turkish media, with 760 hate speech items.

The report states they were systematically coded as criminals, murderers and thieves who posed imminent security problems including terrorism. Syrians were also represented in the media as the reason for the current adverse economic situation in Turkey and rising unemployment numbers.

This hate speech has led to serious incidents in the recent past. Syrian refugee Abdulkadir Davud, 21, was shot dead on August 18 in what appears to be a hate crime in the Zeytinburnu district of İstanbul. On September 13, 16-year-old Syrian Eymen Hammami was stabbed to death in another alleged hate crime in the Black Sea city of Samsun.

News reports also show that refugee children were segregated in schools because Turkish parents refused to send their children to the same schools as refugees, claiming they were a “bad influence.”

Poverty is another problem Syrian refugees are confronted with in Turkey. Children like the El Mansur brothers are pushed into the labor market when they are still of school age.

According to a study conducted in 2018 and published by the Brookings Institution, nearly 40 percent of Syrian children cannot go to school because of poverty and the need to work.

An estimated 3.6 million refugees have been granted temporary protection in Turkey. The majority of them live outside camps, in precarious and challenging circumstances.

The Turkish Red Crescent conducted a survey in 2018 which showed that most Syrian refugees were employed in irregular jobs that came with low wages as well as poor working conditions and exploitation. According to the survey, this was especially true concerning female and child workers.

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