Turkish police arrest five for anti-Syrian incitement following riots
Racist hashtags have gone viral on Turkish Twitter following the victory of opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in Istanbul's mayoral election.
They include #SuriyelilerDefoluyor (Syrians f*** off) and #UlkemdeSuriyeliIstemiyorum (I don't want Syrians in my country).
The Turkish Anadolu News Agency said that police had arrested five people in Istanbul behind social media accounts inciting hatred against Syrians and were looking for four others in the city.
Over half a million Syrians live in Istanbul, most of whom arrived as refugees from the Syrian conflict, which began in 2011. Turkey has a total Syrian refugee population of around 3.8 million people.
Syrians suffer from discrimination and unemployment, or work in low-paid menial jobs.
Many Turks have a negative image of Syrians, seeing them as beggars or thieves. More than two-thirds of Turks believe that Syrian refugees have taken their jobs and increased the crime rate.
The Istanbul election campaign was marked by anti-Syrian rhetoric from both Istanbul mayor-elect Imamoglu's CHP party and Turkish President Recep Erdogan's AK party.
On Thursday, Imamoglu said that he would not allow Syrian refugees to "change the city's colour".
The arrests for incitement came after an anti-Syrian riot in the Kucukcekme district of Istanbul, which was started by a rumour that a young girl had been harassed by a Syrian refugee. Police said that the rumour was false, according to the Ahval News website.
Dozens of people went on a rampage, attacking Syrians living in the area and looting Syrian businesses. Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the rioters.
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