A group of locals attacked the houses, workplaces and cars of Syrian refugees in İzmir on Thursday evening at a time when anti-migrant sentiment is nearing the boiling point in Turkey, the Mezopotamya News Agency reported.
The incident took place following reports that a 17-year-old Turk was killed in a fight. A mob then headed to a neighborhood where Syrian refugees reside.
According to local reports, dozens of angry people threw rocks at homes and burned a building believed to belong to Syrian refugees.
Violence erupted in the Turkish capital of Ankara in August as an angry mob vandalized Syrian businesses and homes in response to the deadly stabbing of a Turkish teenager. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into 61 people following the attacks.
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.
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, earlier said an additional water and solid waste tax 10 times the normal tax would be imposed on refugees living in Bolu.
In a recent meeting with representatives of refugees from various countries, Özcan said foreigners should respect local traditions and provided a long laundry list of things to do and not do that included not going out after 9:00 p.m., not gathering in parks in large numbers and not using too much spice while cooking because the odor disturbs the neighbors.
According to UNHCR Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. The country is currently home to around 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees along with close to 320,000 persons of concern from other nationalities.