Turkish president Erdogan vows to punish attackers of refugees, hijab-wearing women

Turkish president Erdogan vows to punish attackers of refugees, hijab-wearing women
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that people who attack refugees and hijab-wearing women in public spaces would be 'held to account'.
2 min read
06 September, 2023
Erdogan said that there had been increasing attacks on foreigners and headscarf wearing women in Turkey [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken aim at people who carry out religious and racially motivated attacks in Turkey, saying on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that they would be "held to account".

In a tweet published on Tuesday evening, the Turkish president said that there had been increasing "harassment" of people in shops, buses, and other public spaces.

Erdogan was referring to refugees and other foreigners, as well as Turks wearing religious garments such as the hijab headscarf.

"Every person in Turkey, whether a citizen or a foreigner, has the right to live in peace and express their opinion," the Islamist-leaning Turkish leader added.

"Some people, because they are foreign or speak another language or wear the hijab suffer harassment or beating in Turkey. We cannot and will not accept this in Turkey and we will hold [the attackers] to account."

"The era of oppressors who see this country as the property of a small minority is over," Erdogan said, adding that there were people with "a fascist mentality" in Turkey.

Turkey currently hosts around 3.7 million refugees, most of them from neighbouring Syria, and they have been the target of increasing xenophobia and attacks in recent years.

During the run-up to parliamentary and presidential elections last May, which Erdogan narrowly won, the refugees became a major issue.

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The opposition CHP, which has a secularist background, vowed to deport all Syrian refugees within two years.

The run-up to the election also saw attacks on Turkish women who wore the hijab.

Prior to Erdogan assuming power in Turkey in 2003, the country was led by secularist politicians who imposed severe restrictions on hijab-wearing women in Turkey that barred them from attending university or holding public office.

Erdogan blasted the CHP’s refugee policies as "inhuman" before the elections but his government has also been accused of forcibly deporting thousands of Syrian refugees by human rights groups, with deportations increasing in the months after the election.