67 detained in central Turkey after mob attacks Syrian properties

Turkish police detained 67 people on Monday after a mob went on the rampage in the central Anatolian province of Kayseri after a Syrian man was accused of harassing a child, Turkish Minute reported, citing Agence France-Presse and Turkish media.

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 Erdoğan 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 gain.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said the Syrian national, identified only by the initials 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 the Turks who gathered in the area acted “unlawfully” and in a manner “that does not comport with 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, just 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 that the victim was a 5-year-old Syrian national.

Turkey, which hosts some 3.2 million Syrian refugees, has been shaken several times by spates of xenophobic violence in recent years, often triggered by rumors spreading on social media and instant messaging applications.

In August 2021, groups of men targeted businesses and homes occupied by Syrians in Ankara after a brawl that took the life of a 18-year-old man.

The fate of Syrian refugees is also a burning issue in Turkish politics, with Erdoğan’s opponents in last year’s election promising to send them back to Syria.

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