A building housing dozens of Syrians in Istanbul’s Başakşehir district was set ablaze late May 9, allegedly by locals upon rumors that a Syrian boy had stabbed a Turkish boy in the Güvercintepe neighborhood, which has been recently populated by Syrians who have fled the conflict in their country.
A number of Syrians have already left the neighborhood after the incident. Mustafa Elbani, a Syrian buffet owner in the neighborhood, told daily Hürriyet that he was afraid to leave his house. “I came here with my family three years ago. Now we are afraid of walking on the streets,” he said. Elbani said some young Syrians who were living in the neighborhood alone were involved in the fight.
The village man of the neighborhood, İbrahim Dinç, however, accused the police of responding too late to the incidents. “The incidents started at 8:00 p.m. but the police came at midnight. There are 10,000 Syrians living in a neighborhood with a total population of 50,000; 20 Syrians are living in a house. The crime rates increased [after the Syrians came],” said Dinç, voicing the discomfort against the Syrians felt among the locals of the neighborhood.
Güvecintepe, a squatter settlement next to the huge residential sites in Başakşehir, has seen a change in its economic fabric with the inflow of Syrians. The average rents in the area have increased from 200 Turkish Liras to 1,000 liras. The salaries in the small textile workshops have decreased to 500 liras, as Syrians working illegally have accepted lesser wages, according to locals.
Ce qui n’est pas dit c’est que l’envolée des prix des loyers est alimentée volontairement par les grands projets d’infrastructures urbaines alentours (Pont, Kanal, aéroport) mais surtout par l’interdiction faite aux habitants de quartier d’obtenir des nouveaux permis de construction suite à l’inscription de la zone dans un périmètre de transformation urbaine dont les habitants ne savent rien. Ces tensions s’expliquent également, je pense, par d’autres types de rumeurs alimentées par l’incertitude locale et l’espoir de spéculer qui sont instrumentalisées par les pouvoirs publics.