Young Turks attack a car with Syrian license plates. Screen grab from a video posted below.
A video has emerged showing Turks lashing out at Syrian refugees just minutes after deadly bombings struck the Turkish border town of Reyhanli. A Syrian woman who witnessed the attack describes the turmoil her community now faces, explaining that Syrian refugees feel abandoned by Turkey.
The two car bomb attacks in Reyhanli on Saturday killed more than 46 people. The Turkish government has accused the Syrian regime of being behind the attack, which came three days after the Turkish prime minister said he would support a “no-fly zone”
Out of all the countries Syrian refugees have fled to, Turkey is home to the largest number. Turkish authorities say there are 400,000 of them, while the United Nations say there are more than 260,000. The border town of Reyhanli, with 60,000 residents, is currently also home to more than 25,000 Syrian refugees.
The Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was among the first to support the Syrian uprising. This support has been criticised by some Turks, who fear the conflict would spill over onto Turkish territory, especially since the influx of refugees has caused security problems for local authorities.
Arabs, Christians, Kurds and several other minorities live on both sides of the Turkey-Syria border. Turkey is home to 12 million Alawites, mostly concentrated in the Sanjak of Alexandretta – now the Turkish province of Hatay – a province that in 1939 was given by France, which then had a mandate in Syria, to Turkey.
There have been decades of friction between the Sunni majority and the Alawite minority in Turkey. The last major incident was the Sivas massacre in 1993. Thirty-five Alawite intellectuals were killed in a fire started by a hostile mob. The tension between Turkish Alawites and Syrian refugees, who are for the most part Sunni, is thus an extension of the historical tension between these communities.