Turkey’s economic woes spark attack against Syrian refugees in Istanbul

Physical attacks against Syrians are increasing in many Turkish cities amid the economic crisis that is being felt across the country.

In a recent incident, a small group of Turkish men attacked a clothes shop belonging to Syrian refugees.

Two Syrian brothers — Mustafa, 21, and Ahmed, 22 — watched the attack live through security camera from their home at 2 am, but couldn’t protect their business as they were scared of the crowd.

The two explained that “the crowd broke their glass storefront, ripped up Arabic leaflets and signs and set them alight,” Reuters reported.

They called the Turkish grocer who has a shop next to their one, but he warned the brothers that the protesters wanted to kill them and they should not come to the shop.

“We couldn’t go [to the shop] until 5 or 6 in the morning. We emptied out half the merchandise, and waited a couple of days until things calmed down,” Mustafa and Ahmed told Reuters.

On the night of 29 June, and in the last February, a group of Turks attacked Syrian shops and properties in another incident. Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd who attacked Syrian shops and properties in Kucukcekmece but not couldn’t stop the crowd.

Kucukcekmece is known as a place where many Syrians live and operate businesses with Arabic signs.

Turkish police said they have identified 58 members of a group responsible for inciting the assaults in Kucukcekmece, and 11 members have been detained as investigations continue.

“Syrians Get Out” and “I Don’t Want Syrians in My Country,” hashtags have widely been circulated in Turkey in recent years.

The police captured five suspects who use these hashtags in social media as part of the latest investigation.

As the Turkish economy entered recession in the last month of 2018, many Turkish companies have declared bankruptcy.

The local currency, the lira, has been pummelled in the past year. The fallout from its decision to purchase a Russian missile defense system is the latest dispute with Washington that has impacted the currency negatively.

Turks are increasingly blaming more than three million Syrian refugees in the country for their economic woes.

Istanbul’s new metropolitan Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu told Reuters that he would make an effort to create a basis for Syrian migrants to return to their homeland.

Imamoglu commented that if a large number of Syrians remained the city, Istanbulities will have serious security concerns leading to potential street clashes between Turks and Syrians.

Since the Syrian conflict has started in 2011, the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey reached 4 million and Istanbul province alone has over half a million, according to Turkey’s interior ministry.

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