Kuwaiti tourist 'beaten unconscious' in Turkey's Trabzon amid rising anti-Arab racism

Kuwaiti tourist 'beaten unconscious' in Turkey's Trabzon amid rising anti-Arab racism
Mohammed Al-Ajmi, who received medical treatment in hospital following the incident, received an official apology from Trabzon authorities.
2 min read
18 September, 2023
Trabzon and the surrounding area are a popular tourist resort for Gulf Arab nationals [Getty]

A man in Turkey had been detained in connection with an assault on a Kuwaiti tourist in the northern city of Trabzon.

A video clip of Saturday's incident has gone viral in the Arab world, sparking widespread outrage.

In the video, a man, reportedly Turkish, is involved in a heated discussion with a Kuwaiti national, who is then struck in the face.

The tourist, identified as 46-year-old Mohammed Al-Ajmi, was apparently knocked to the ground unconscious, to the horror of his family and passers-by

The Turkish judiciary said that an investigation into the incident has been launched.

An official statement from the city authorities read: "A verbal quarrel occurred between two foreign tourists, while a Turkish citizen thought that the two tourists were resisting police officers who had intervened to calm the dispute. The citizen suddenly struck the tourist, who is a Kuwaiti national, leading to his injury."

Al-Ajmi received medical treatment for head injuries but was released later on Sunday after Trabzon security officials checked up on the man.

The city’s officials apologised to the Kuwaiti national, saying: "This unfortunate individual incident is not supported of the residents of Trabzon in any way, and [the perpetrator] is not worthy of the good hospitality of Trabzon and Turkey."

Although the motive is not clear in this incident, there have been attacks on Arab tourists in Turkey before, amid a rise in xenophobia.

Trabzon, a popular tourist destination for citizens of Arab Gulf states, is known for its mild summer climates and natural beauty.

The incident sparked outrage in the Gulf country. Several lawmakers have urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs to take action and that Al-Ajmi and his family must be provided with protection until they return to Kuwait.

A protest - organised by the Turkish Free Thought and Educational Rights Association (ÖZGÜR-DER) - took place in Istanbul on Saturday denouncing racism, prejudice, and anti-immigrant sentiments.

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There has been a rise in anti-Arab sentiment in Turkey in recent years, mostly targeting Syrian refugees who fled the devastating civil war in their country, which has killed at least 500,000 people and forcibly displaced millions.

Syrians, who number around 4 million in Turkey, have been subjected to physical and verbal attacks and widespread discrimination.

There have even been cases of murder in recent years. Several Arabic-language store signs have recently been removed from shop facades in a show of prejudice against the language.