Video footage of an Afghan refugee being cruelly beaten by three people in western Turkey's Afyonkarahisar has once again put under spotlight the dangerous consequences of anti-refugee sentiments, fueled by some opposition figures.
The video, shared on social media, shows three young men beating an Afghan refugee with belts and forcing the victim to say some nationalist words and political slogans.
The three suspects have been detained by police, reports said. The video was found in one of the suspects' phone along with videos of child pornography.
Turkey already hosts nearly 4 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. The country has spent over $35 billion on refugees.
Despite the government's welcoming policy toward refugees, which is also supported by the majority of the public, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and its ally the far-right Good Party (İP) have been propagating anti-refugee rhetoric in Turkey, targeting refugees in their political discourse.
In the June 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and İP Chairwoman Meral Akşener a
dopted a populist and exclusionary interpretation of nationalism in a bid to garner votes. In a speech at a rally in northern Giresun in 2017, Kılıçdaroğlu said: "There's no money for farmers, but do you know how much has been spent on Syrians? $30 million. They've become first class citizens. The price of hazelnuts has made people in the Black Sea Region second-class citizens. You will ask for an account of this."
He has not been the first to take such a stance against Syrian refugees, instead of preparing to resolve the municipality's problems.
Tanju Özcan, the new CHP mayor in the western province of Bolu, instructed municipality departments to stop relief for foreigners, saying that Syrian refugees should return home as soon as possible. Despite facing stern criticism, he later continued to support his anti-refugee plan, saying that Iraqi, Syrian and Afghan refugees are living in the "highest standards" in Bolu.
During the March 31 election campaign, the İP mayoral candidate used election banners in Fatih, Istanbul, a district that hosts a considerable number of Syrian refugees, pledging to clear the district of Syrian refugees, sparking serious criticism for provoking social unrest with their anti-Syrian rhetoric.
"I will not leave Fatih in the hands of Syrians," the banners read, which is supposed to be the main election motto of the İP's district mayoral candidate İlay Aksoy. The public and some politicians expressed criticism on social media channels.
In one of her rallies, Aksoy vowed that she will eliminate all signs written in Arabic and said, "My official language is Turkish and it will stay Turkish," remarks that are very similar to the types of comments made in Europe and the U.S. out of fear of immigrants.