8 detained for hate speech targeting African students at northern Turkey university

Turkish police have detained eight suspects for allegedly using hate speech in social media posts against African students at a university in northwestern Turkey amid claims that they were working as sex workers and spreading sexually transmitted diseases in the city, Turkish Minute reported, citing the state-run Anadolu news agency.

According to media reports and accounts on social media since last week, a number of male and female students at Karabük University went to the hospital on suspicion of having contracted human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after sexual intercourse with African students.

The claims, circulated on an Instagram account called “Karabük University Confessions Page” and refuted by the Karabük Provincial Health Directorate, sparked social media discussions that eventually escalated to include statements of racism and hate speech against Africans.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 10 people on charges of “inciting hatred and enmity among the people” and “disseminating misleading information” online regarding the hate speech circulating on social media concerning the claims about the Karabük University students.

Eight suspects were detained on Thursday, while the remaining two are still being sought.

According to 2022-2023 statistics from Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK), there are over 52,000 students at Karabük University, 11,890 of whom are foreign nationals.

The Friends of All Africa Association stated that there are nearly 6,000 students from 35 different African countries in the city.

The city’s population is 248,000. There were claims that some students from African countries were accepted at the university in return for money to generate revenue for the school.

Last year the city was shaken by the suspected murder of Jeannah Dinabongho Ibouanga, a 17-year-old Gabonese student whose body was found in a river in Karabük.

Prosecutors have indicted a local man named Dursun Acar, seeking aggravated life for murder and another 15 years on charges of sexual abuse.

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