Hostility toward Syrians grows after deadly fight in central Turkey


Tensions are running high in the Beyşehir district of the Central Anatolian province of Konya, where a young Turkish man and a Syrian man were recently killed in a street fight, as local residents, including the slain Turkish teen’s family, demand the Syrians living in the area leave.

Two people were killed and another three were wounded in a fight between Syrians and Turks which erupted over the kicking of a stray dog late on July 9 in Beyşehir. The fight was reportedly started after Mehmet Bayraktar, 18, saw four Syrians kicking a stray dog and warned them not to do so.

A number of local Beyşehir residents, including Bayraktar’s parents, have shown their anger since the deadly incident, voicing that they no longer wanted Syrians in their town.

The police have taken wide security measures since the incident, with riot control vehicles with water cannons, known as TOMAs, and some 400 police officers dispatched to the town as a precaution.

Speaking after the killing of their son, the Bayraktar family demanded measures be taken to prevent similar killings.

“Our pain is huge. We have lost our son for nothing. As people of Beyşehir, we have done whatever was required to meet the Syrians’ needs. But it is out in the open what they have done. Now we want measures to be taken against Syrians and for them to leave the district. Because we have suffered, do not let others suffer as well. It is not clear what the Syrians will do,” said Bayraktar’s grandfather, Mehmet Bayraktar.

Meanwhile some of the 900 Syrians living in the town have already left after their homes were allegedly stoned following the deadly fight.

Mustafa Sevimli, whose shop was below an apartment that was stoned by an angry crowd, said Syrians had been welcomed in the town but now they were posing a threat.

“Now we are concerned. We do not want them to be here anymore. Syrians have come here as guests and we want them to act as guests. We will then show our hospitality. But if they do craziness, the people of Beyşehir won’t stand behind them. Until now, the people of Beyşehir embraced them with love,” said Sevimli.

Another shopkeeper in the same building, Ömer Duran, said the state had to find solutions to the problem.

“They have used our love for mean purposes. The state should give the necessary punishment, because if people get involved in this [situation], things would get out of hand. [The Syrian] people who live in this building have gathered on the top floor. The landlord also wants to take them out. Now, we, as the shopkeepers are being affected,” said Duran.

Meanwhile, the interrogation of some 15 people, including eight Syrians who were detained after the incident, was ongoing while the body of Syrian İbrahim El Ali, who was killed in the fight, was still in a morgue and it will be buried in a public cemetery if no one shows up to claim it.

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