Turkey earthquake: Grief gives way to anger as anti-Syrian sentiment boils
Sorrow and grief are turning to anger in several parts of southern Turkey, as xenophobic claims that Syrian refugees are looting shops and people's homes gain traction, following the destruction and chaos caused by last week's earthquakes.
As rescue efforts continue for a seventh day in the worst-affected Turkish cities of Kahramanmaras, Hatay and Adiyaman, anti-Syrian sentiment has mushroomed, with the beleaguered community blamed anecdotally for robberies and other acts of criminality.
'I smashed the face of a Syrian yesterday. Somebody said he was stealing money and jewelry from damaged buildings'
- Turkish police officer
"Do you know what is happening now, here in Antakya? We are being looted. Turks are being looted by Syrians," an Antakya-based resident told Middle East Eye, his voice full of anger.
"We are trying to save people but they are trying to rob us," he added, without expanding on whether or not he had personally seen any Syrians engage in criminal acts.
Turkey is home to nearly four million Syrian refugees, having opened its borders to those fleeing the civil war that erupted in 2011. But in recent years, skyrocketing inflation accompanied by the rapid depreciation of the Turkish lira has caused resentment and xenophobia to spike to unprecedented levels.