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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid