ANKARA (Dispatches) – A brutal assault on an elderly Syrian woman by a Turkish man in Gaziantep has stirred outrage online and reignited discussion over the treatment of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
A video circulating on Tuesday appeared to show 70-year-old Leyla Muhammed sitting on a bench and being approached by a number of Turkish men. One of the men suddenly kicks Muhammed in the face. She is then seen bent over in pain, screaming and covering one eye with her hand.
The suspected attacker was arrested and later identified as 39-year-old Sakir Cakir.
On social media, activists have emulated Muhammed’s harrowing pose, posting images of themselves covering one eye with their hand, using the hashtags “stand with Leyla”, and “no to racism”.
Many are calling on the Turkish government to hold to account those responsible for the attack.
“What must be implemented is a deterrent law, and the vulnerable should know their rights, and the host country should respect human rights,” one Twitter user wrote.
The attack has also reignited the conversation surrounding Syrian refugees in Turkey. The non-profit Syrian Emergency Task Force, which aims to end violence against Syrian civilians, tweeted the video of the attack, writing “this is part of a growing trend of racism and discrimination against Syrian refugees. Countries must do more to protect refugees.”
The mayor of Gaziantep, Davut Gul, visited Leyla in hospital and posted images of their interaction on Twitter, writing, “We stand with the oppressed against the oppressor.”
His tweet also said that the suspected attacker had been arrested.