Angry crowds attack Syrian businesses in Turkey over sexual abuse allegation
Dozens of locals in the southern Turkish city of Adana attacked and looted businesses and shops belonging to Syrian refugees after social media gossip claimed that a Syrian had tried to rape an 11-year-old, according to local media reports.
The media broadcast images of young individuals hitting pull-down shutters while others shout, “hit, hit, these are Syrian shops”.
The police intervened to disperse the crowd with pepper spray and water cannons but the attacks and protests continued throughout the night.
The Adana Govenor’s Office released an official statement on its website in response to the violence: “A report transmitted to our police force on Thursday night at 7:00pm claimed that an 11-year-old child was sexually abused by a person in his 20s who speaks good Turkish and is considered to be one of our citizens. An investigation is proceeding against the said individual.”
A Turkish official with knowledge of the incident told MEE that the suspect wasn’t Syrian.
“Eyewitnesses say he was Turkish. But some people deliberately circulated that he was Syrian,” the official said.
“The police are still trying to apprehend the individual.”
Police forces arrested 25 suspects who are believed to have damaged Syrian businesses or made calls on social media to do so.
This is not the first time Syrian businesses have been targeted in Turkey. In July, dozens of Syrian shops were looted by angry crowds over alleged verbal abuse by a Syrian boy toward a Turkish girl.
Inter-community tensions have been high in Turkey, which hosts more than 3.5 million refugees since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.
A poll commissioned by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) this month indicated that 77 percent of people in Turkey have negative feeling toward Syrian refugees, while 73 percent perceive them as a security threat.