News / Middle East

Syrian Refugees Fear Backlash in Turkey After Bombings

A Syrian family walks past a blast site in the town of Reyhanli of Hatay province near the Turkish-Syrian border May 12, 2013.
A Syrian family walks past a blast site in the town of Reyhanli of Hatay province near the Turkish-Syrian border May 12, 2013.
Reuters
Syrian refugees in Turkey say they fear a backlash after car bombings that killed 50 people and wounded many others over the weekend in a border town.
 
Turkey is home to some 400,000 refugees from the two-year civil war in Syria, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as one of the most vocal leaders in the region supporting the uprising against Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
 
The bombings in the border town of Reyhanli have increased fears that Syria's civil war is dragging in neighboring states, despite renewed diplomatic moves to end it. Damascus has denied Turkish allegations it was involved in the blasts.
 
“We are putting our trust in God but our fear is that people will blame us for the bombings and will attack us. We have to protect ourselves,'' said 75-year-old Mohammad Nuh, one of thousands of Syrian refugees living in Reyhanli.
 
“We haven't been into the town center since Saturday. Only out to the local shop. Other Syrians here won't even leave the house,'' said Nuh, who left Aleppo two months ago.
 
His grandson, Amr Nuh, 21, said he was out buying mobile phone credits when the blasts took place, and was seized by locals because he was Syrian. They held him and called the police who kept him overnight for questioning.
 
Since the attacks, some locals have turned their ire on the influx of Syrians in the town. Many have expressed anger over the policies of Erdogan, blaming his support of Assad's opponents for bringing the war's impact across the border.
 
Spontaneous demonstrations by angry young men chanting anti-Erdogan slogans have broken out. Syrian refugees have largely vanished from the streets, staying indoors for their safety.
 
We Knew It World Happen

A retired tailor who gave his name as Mehmet, 75, said anger was focused not at genuine civilian refugees but at rebel fighters who had taken advantage of hospitality in Turkey and were operating in the area, making it a target.
 
“We knew this bombing would happen. Even a 5-year-old would have known this was going to happen. There are going to be more,'' said Mehmet, who said he was only a few hundred meters from one of the blasts when it happened.
 
“We do not know who most of these people are who come into our town. They leave at night and go fight over the border and then come back.''
 
Most of the local residents in this part of Turkey are ethnic Arabs and Sunni Muslims, like the majority of the Syrian refugees who have fled from the government of Assad, a member of the Alawite minority sect.
 
“A Syrian family lives there,'' said Mehmet, pointing to an apartment. “It makes me sad: they are too scared even to come out now. I have nothing against these people. But the other people, we just don't know who they are.''
 
Turkey has accused a group with links to Syrian intelligence of carrying out the car bombings.
 
“This incident is definitely linked to the (Syrian) regime,'' Erdogan told reporters on Monday ahead of a trip to the United States. The bombings triggered a wave of anxiety, particularly along the 910 km border.
 
In Reyhanli, anger has been building for months as the Syrian war makes itself felt in the city. Turkish officials have urged people to keep calm.
 
NATO-member Turkey has fired back at Syrian government forces when mortars have landed on its soil, but despite its strong words has appeared reluctant to bring its considerable military might to bear directly in the conflict.
 
When Syrian refugees first entered Turkey in 2011, they were largely well received. But attitudes have soured.
 
“I blame the Turkish government for this mess. They should never have got involved in Syria ... Now we are suffering because of it,'' said 20-year-old student Hamdi.
 
Mustafa, a teacher, said “We don't want the Syrians here anymore. They can't stay here. Whether we even wanted them or not, they can't stay after this.''

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid