A group of locals attacked houses, workplaces and cars owned by Syrian refugees on Tuesday night in Ankara’s Altındağ district, the Evrensel daily reported.
The incident took place following reports that a Syrian refugee stabbed two Turkish men in a fight. A large number of people then headed to a neighborhood where Syrian refugees reside.
Hate crimes against refugees and migrants, who are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic troubles, have been escalating in the country in recent years.
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.
In March a Syrian refugee was assaulted by a group of streetcleaners in southern Antalya province. The man was beaten and his motorcycle was crushed with a garbage truck and set on fire.
Anti-migrant sentiment has also been expressed by opposition politicians. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has promised to send Syrians back home if his party comes to power.
Tanju Özcan, the mayor of Bolu province from the CHP, recently said an additional water and solid waste tax 10 times the normal tax would be imposed on refugees living in Bolu.
“We cut their benefits and stopped giving them business licenses to open shops, but they didn’t leave,” he said during a meeting at city hall. “The city council will meet next week, and we will discuss raising their taxes.”
According to UNHCR Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. The country is currently home to some 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees along with close to 320,000 persons of concern from other nationalities.