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Turkey: Missing gay Syrian refugee found beheaded in Istanbul

Sunday 28 August 2016, by siawi3

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/04/body-missing-gay-syrian-refugee-muhammed-wisam-sankari-found-beheaded-istanbul

Muhammed Wisam Sankari had feared for his life in Turkish city, having fled war in Syria a year earlier, rights group reports

Photo: Riot police fire rubber bullets at LGBT protesters in Istanbul, where the gay pride parade was cancelled this year. Photograph: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Agence France-Presse in Ankara

Thursday 4 August 2016 16.09 BST
Last modified on Friday 5 August 2016 00.10 BST

The body of a gay Syrian refugee who disappeared in central Istanbul was found mutilated and beheaded two days later, a local rights group has said.

Muhammed Wisam Sankari went missing on 23 July after leaving his home in the conservative Fatih district, Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association said.

His killing has not been widely reported in Turkish media, other than in a handful of leftwing publications citing Kaos GL. There has so far been no official confirmation on whether he was killed for being gay.

Sankari arrived in Istanbul a year ago after fleeing the war in Syria, but wanted to leave Turkey because he feared for his life.

He was threatened by male gangs carrying knives, who said they wanted to rape him, friends told Kaos GL. One friend, who identified the body, told the organisation it was so mutilated, he was only recognisable from his clothes.

“They cut Wisam violently. It was so violent, two knives had broken inside of him. They beheaded him. His upper body was beyond recognition, his internal organs were out. We recognised our friend from his trousers,” the friend said.

Sankari had also been kidnapped and raped five months before his death, one of his housemates told Kaos GL. “They took him by car to a forest, where they beat and raped him,” his housemate Rayan said.

They previously had to leave a house because they were gay, Kaos GL said. There have been no arrests, the group reported.

Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since 1923, when the republic was founded. It was also legal in the Ottoman empire from the mid 19th century.

However, gay people in Turkey regularly complain of harassment and abuse in a largely conservative Muslim society, where same-sex relationships are frowned upon.

Authorities in Istanbul banned the annual gay pride march in June for the second year in a row, citing security and public order fears.