The body of a gay Syrian refugee man was found severely mutilated and beheaded two days after he was reportedly abducted in Istanbul. Muhammed Wisam Sankari went missing on July 23 after leaving his home in the conservative faith district of Istanbul. Two days later, on July 25, his body was found so severely mutilated that his friends were forced to rely on his clothing to positively identify him. This was the second time in one year that Sankari was abducted and raped, according to his friend and housemate Rayan. Friends of Sankari told a local LGBT rights group that he was constantly receiving death threats based on his sexuality and was planning on leaving the country due to fears for his life.
Sankari’s friends stated that he was regularly threatened by groups of homophobic young men armed with weapons. The men would typically be armed with knives and threatened to rape and kill him whenever he was seen on public streets. Approximately five months before his murder a group of men followed through on their threats. Sankari was forced into a car and brought to a forrest where he was repeatedly raped and beaten. Sankari told friends that the men planned on killing him but he was able to save himself by fleeing to a nearby road. Sankari and his friends reported the incident to local police but no action was taken.
Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since 1923 but that hasn’t stopped hate crimes from being committed or even prevented open discrimination against gays. Sankari and his roommate where forced to leave an apartment earlier this year due to their sexual orientation and harassment or flat-out attacks against gay men are openly ignored by local authorities. Authorities have taken their hatred one step further by flat out banning gay pride marches in the city for the second year in a row.
No arrests have been made in connection to Sankari’s death.