An employee working at an Istanbul branch of the McDonald’s fast-food chain poured boiling water on a Syrian child for “disturbing customers,” with the incident making headlines after a brawl ensued between the customers and the employee.
The shocking episode took place Tuesday at a McDonald’s located in Istanbul’s upscale Nişantaşı neighborhood. According to claims, a female employee poured a cup of boiling water onto the child for disturbing customers on the restaurant’s upper floor.
After witnessing the incident, a male customer physically intervened, while other customers reported the act to the police.
Police arrived on the scene and took the child to a nearby police station and then to the Şişli Hamidiye Etfal Hospital to treat the burns on his neck. The employee and the customer who intervened were also taken to the station to offer testimonies.
The child remained fearful and in shock following his treatment.
The restaurant manager and employees initially declined to comment. However, McDonald’s Turkey later confirmed the incident to Turkish media outlets, stating that the employee’s contract was terminated and that an investigation had been launched.
A similar incident involving a fast-food chain similarly prompted public outrage in January 2015 when the manager of an Istanbul branch of Burger King physically assaulted a Syrian boy for eating leftover French fries discarded on trays at the restaurant.
Additionally, in July 2015 a restaurant manager in the western province of Izmir was caught on camera beating a Syrian boy trying to sell tissues.
Many Turks also remember the incident in 2000 when a girl selling tissues at a branch of McDonald’s in Istanbul’s Beylikdüzü district was locked in the restaurant’s freezer by the manager for “bothering the customers.” Eyewitnesses later rescued her and the manager was detained.
As a result of the six-year-long civil war in its southern neighbor Syria, over three million refugees currently reside in Turkey. Only a small fraction reside in refugee camps in the southern parts of the country, where basic means are provided by the state and NGO’s. The majority have a difficult time finding employment and are therefore forced to live on the street or in abandoned establishments, begging or selling tissues to earn a living.
Though the Turkish public in general has embraced Syrians, especially in comparison with other countries, a worrying xenophobic sentiment that refugees are a financial burden on Turkey has caused sporadic cases of violence against Syrians to occur.