Bolu mayor seeks to deter migrants by imposing exorbitant fee for foreigners who want to marry

Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan

Foreigners who want to marry in Bolu will be required to pay a fee of TL 100,000 ($10,100), in an attempt to deter migrants from settling in the city, according to a proposal by Mayor Tanju Özcan, known for his anti-immigrant views.

Talking to the press about the city’s proposed 2022 budget, Özcan, from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said he wants to implement a variable fee structure for marriage licenses. The first marriage would be the cheapest according to his proposal. The fee will increase to TL 5,000 ($505) if it is the second marriage of either of the parties, and TL 50,000 ($5,050) if it is the third marriage.

If either of the parties is a foreigner, the fee will be increased to TL 100,000 ($10,100).

“We are doing this to protect the family and to discourage divorce,” Özcan said. “We are also aiming to prevent foreigners from marrying, living and having children in Bolu. We are proposing this to prevent two Syrians or two Iraqis from marrying here.”

According to the municipality’s website the current fee for a marriage license ranges between TL 500 ($50.50) and TL 1,500 ($151.50) depending on the day and venue of the wedding.

Özcan previously sparked mixed reactions when he said an additional water and solid waste tax 10 times the normal tax would be imposed on migrants in Bolu in order to persuade them to leave.

Refugees in Turkey have been increasingly targeted by hate speech and hate crimes and are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic troubles.

Turkish media including pro-government and opposition outlets fuel and exploit the flames of hatred against people who fled their countries and sought refuge in Turkey.

Anti-migrant sentiment has also been expressed by opposition politicians. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has promised to send Syrians back home if his party comes to power.

In August a group of locals attacked Syrian refugees, their houses, workplaces and cars in Ankara’s Altındağ district, chanting anti-Syrian and fascist slogans. Images on social media showed dozens of angry people throwing rocks at homes, smashing shops and cars and burning merchandise looted from shops believed to belong to Syrian refugees.

According to  UNHCR Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. The country is currently home to some 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees along with close to 320,000 persons of concern from other nationalities.

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