Shocking footage shows elderly Syrian woman kicked in face in 'racist' Turkey attack

Shocking footage shows elderly Syrian woman kicked in face in 'racist' Turkey attack
3 min read
31 May, 2022
A Turkish man has been arrested after a horrific video showed an elderly Syrian woman being kicked in the face in the southern city of Gaziantep
Syrians have faced increasing racism in Turkey [Getty]

A shocking video of an elderly Syrian woman being kicked in the face by a Turkish man in a "racist attack" in the southern city of Gaziantep has caused horror and outrage.

The video shows the woman, identified as 70-year-old Leila Mohammed, sitting on a bench as a number of men speaking Turkish approach her.

One of the men then kicks her in the face and she screams out, clutching her face and then covering her eye in pain.

WARNING: This video contains footage some readers may find distressing.

Thiry-nine-year-old Sakir Cakir, a man who had been arrested nine times before on other charges, was named as the alleged assailant.

The man in the video accuses Mohammed of attempting to kidnap a child before kicking her, although there was no evidence of this.

The Syrian website Orient News said that other people in the vicinity did not help or comfort Leila after she was kicked.

Cakir was later detained for the attack, according to a statement from the office of the Governor of Gaziantep.

Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) condemned the incident, saying, “the violence against our mother, Leila Mohammed, who is 70 years old has caused us all deep sadness".

She was also visited by the deputy governor of Gaziantep province following the incident.

Syrian websites reported that Leila had previously suffered from mental health problems. Following the attack on Leila Mohammed, Syrian and Turkish social media users launched a campaign of solidarity, uploading photographs of themselves covering their eyes in the same way she did after she was kicked.

They used the Turkish-language hashtag #SakirCakirTutuklansin (Arrest Sakir Cakir) to show solidarity with Leila.

Syrian journalist Hadi Abdullah said on Facebook: "This kick hit us all – it destroyed all the strength in us and increased our despair and pain."

Ercument Akdeniz, the head of Turkey’s Labour Party, said that "chauvinistic rhetoric" had targeted refugees for a long time in Turkey and that showing solidarity with Mohammed following the attack was not enough.

He accused some Turkish politicians who had declared solidarity with her of stoking anti-refugee resentment.

Turkey currently hosts over 3.5 million refugees from the Syrian conflict, which began in 2011.

There has been growing discrimination against the population recently, with some Turks blaming the refugees for rising costs of living and other economic problems, causing political parties to compete to take a tough line against refugees.

Syrian refugees have been subjected to arbitrary deportations to war-torn Syria by Turkish authorities, as well as verbal abuse and violent racist attacks by citizens.

Meanwhile, Turkey is currently planning an incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria, amid speculation that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will forcibly resettle around one million Syrian refugees in the area.