Photos posted online of a Syrian boy beaten by a man reportedly trying to stop him from selling tissues to diners at a Turkish restaurant have sparked a backlash of anger in Turkey, even reaching the prime minister, who reached out to help the struggling family.
Turkey’s Daily Sabah described what happened at the restaurant last week:
The unidentified boy was selling tissues at a restaurant in Izmir's Basmane Square. The manager of the restaurant, apparently enraged over the boy approaching restaurant patrons, tried to drag him out. When the boy resisted, he started slapping him. Passersby intervened, but the man continued hitting the boy who fell on the ground and crawled under the tables in front of the restaurant to escape the blows. His nose bled from the beating. Onlookers tried to help the scared boy to no avail. The boy left the scene in tears, while the man won't be prosecuted for the very public beating.
The photo of the boy with the bloody nose holding up his travel-size tissue sample and wiping away his tears was widely reported in Turkey, a country which is currently home to more than 1.8 Syrians who have fled their war-torn country.
In one of the images, the boy was seen apparently trying to seek cover under a table to escape being struck again.
“I was only selling tissues. While I was about to sell a pack to a lady there, they pulled me aside and hit me. They stepped on me,” said the boy, since identified as Ahmed Hamdo Abeyd, , according to Hurriyet Daily News. “Syrians on the other side of the road rushed and poured water on me and I gained consciousness only then.”
The Turkish paper reported that the boy, his parents and four siblings fled from Aleppo to Turkey where their father, a television repairman, has not found work.
His mother said she is very happy they came to Turkey and did not consider filing a police complaint over the incident.
“We are so happy with Turkey. God bless you,” she said. “I believe God will punish those who beat up my boy.”
Social media messages were posted expressing outrage over the incident.
“Many tears for Syrian refugee boy beaten in Turkey, hope its true the creeps are in jail for attacking him,” one person wrote on Twitter, according to Al Arabiya.
Daily Sabah reported that another person described the restaurant employee as an “animal.”
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu asked the local leader of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to find the family and help them, Hurriyet reported.