Muhammad Wisam Sankari, a gay Syrian refugee living under asylum in Turkey, was found brutally murdered in the country’s capital city of Istanbul. According to CNN, Sankari’s body was found in a badly mutilated state, and his friends could only identify him by his pants. Sankari has been missing since July 23 following which a manhunt was underway in the city with several people looking for him. His body was found two days later, on July 26, in the Yenkapi district of Istanbul city.
The death of Wisam Sankari gained significance after it was reported that he had been in the past threatened, kidnapped, and raped following the revelation that he was gay. According to Turkey-based rights group Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (KAOS GL), Sankari was allegedly stabbed and then beheaded by his captors following which his body was subjected to mutilation. A friend, who has not been named told CNN the following.
“We identified him from his pants… They had cut (him) so violently. So violent that two knives had broken inside him. They had beheaded him. His upper body was beyond recognition.”
— TheAutisticZebra (@AutisticZebra) August 4, 2016
Another friend added.
“If you saw his body, if you even saw a picture of it, you would faint. It was as if he was attacked by a beast.”
According to Alex Benjamin, an official for a organization that works for the LGBT community in Turkey, Wisam was stabbed more than 20 times. Several of his organs were removed as well. He went on to add that local police officials have “done nothing because he is Syrian and because he is gay.”
While most of his friends claim that Wisam was killed because he was gay, police officials are tight lipped about the motive behind the murder. While an investigation has been launched, the killers still remain at large. Police officials have refused to comment about the case as well.
While London Mayor Kahn let’s his people murder in streets, Muslims rape & behead gay man in Istanbul. https://t.co/fJLq62Y9xK
— Pamela (@WeepingSophia) August 4, 2016
According to Wisam’s friends, no help has been forthcoming from organizations that have been set up to deal with asylum seekers and migrants living in Turkey. Gizem Demirci Al Kadah, a spokesperson for The Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants also declined to comment on the case.
“Yes, there are cases that we cannot help. But we cannot comment on this. But we do try to do everything we can to help those who come to us.”
Another facet of the case that complicates things further is the fact that Wisam did not have proper papers or an ID. Like most other asylum seekers, he fled his country without any papers. After reaching Turkey over an year ago, he was still not able to get an official ID from the Turkish government officials.
Meanwhile, the attack and subsequent murder of Wisam has left the small LGBT community on Turkey scared and vulnerable.
“I am so scared. I feel like everyone is staring at me on the street…No one cares about us. They just talk. I get threats over the phone…. If you are gay, you are everyone’s target,” a friend of Wisam told reporters.
While things were already bad for the gay community in Syria where the arrival of the ISIS meant almost certain death for gay individuals, things do not look very optimistic in Turkey either where several of them fled to. In Turkey, several gay individuals feel vulnerable to attack from other Syrian refugees who consider it a great sin. The Turkish government too has not been in favor gay rights in the country. This was more than evident when two months ago, police officials interrupted a gay pride parade in Istanbul with pepper spray and rubber pellets
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