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Istanbul's African community squeezed between small jobs, huge discrimination

A new photo book highlights the bleak reality of Istanbul's African community in terms of employment and discrimination.

In Istanbul's Kumkapi neighborhood, where rows of weary historic buildings face the Marmara Sea, signs of the city's African communities are around every corner. A Nigerian restaurant here, an Ethiopian hairdresser there. Across town in the quarter of Ferikoy, soccer squads consisting of African players duke it out on a large pitch framed by a skyline of skyscrapers. Nearby in the Kurtulus neighborhood, an evangelical Christian church with an African congregation is tucked into a apartment building and only noticeable because of its sign.

Istanbul is home to as many as 150,000 people hailing from a number of African countries who have established communities throughout the city. However, they remain among the most disenfranchised groups in Istanbul, and are frequently associated with selling watches on the street. Sociologist Dogus Simsek and photographer Yusuf Sayman, via an ambitious effort gleaned from interviews with Africans from six countries and a variety of backgrounds, have taken aim at countering negative and one-dimensional perceptions held toward Africans residing in the city.

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