During a recent confrontation in Turkey, a Syrian refugee responded assertively to a Turkish man’s accusation that Syrians live “for free” in the country. “What do you mean free? You’re the one living for free,” she retorted, stating that she is an English teacher who has worked voluntarily for eight years.
The incident, captured on video, underscores the tensions between Syrian refugees and some segments of the Turkish population.
The Syrian woman emphasised her and her community’s efforts to integrate and contribute to Turkish society. “I started from scratch when I arrived,” she explained, highlighting their work ethic and educational achievements. “We work, we earn. We’re educated, we know languages,” she added. Her statement reflects a broader narrative of resilience and contribution amidst the challenges faced by refugees.
The exchange escalated as the crowd joined, with some individuals urging the refugee to, “Go back to your country!” The woman, undeterred, countered these xenophobic chants with a call for empathy and understanding. “May God make you experience what we’ve been through,” she addressed someone in the crowd, critiquing the hypocrisy in attitudes towards different refugee groups. “You feel sorry for Palestine, it’s all lies,” she claimed, challenging the sincerity of their compassion.
Her words also conveyed a deep sense of frustration and fatigue shared by many in her community. “We’re tired, fed up, we are tired of this,” she said, expressing a longing for relief from their struggles. “If there’s another world, we will go there,” she lamented, pointing to the desperation that drives the search for a better life.
Meanwhile, far-right political parties like the Victory Party and their associated social media accounts continue amplifying the xenophobic rhetoric and urging voters to take a hard line against refugees. Their posts, often laced with misinformation and inflammatory language, further stoke tensions and deepen the social divide.