Somali restaurant owner in Ankara faces deportation after racist attacks

The owner of a Somali restaurant in the Turkish capital city of Ankara faces deportation from Turkey after his restaurant was the target of a series of racist attacks, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Birgün daily.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), announced on Twitter that Turkish authorities have decided to deport the restaurant’s owner, Mohamed Abdullahı. It was not clear what reason was cited by the authorities as the grounds for Abdullahi’s deportation.

“His crime was to run the Saab restaurant in Kızılay in line with the law. Police told him to close the restaurant, and then he was the subject of racist and discriminatory acts,” tweeted Gergerlioğlu.

Businesses run by Somali nationals in Ankara have been facing growing pressure from the Turkish police as well as racist attacks from locals since autumn 2021.

In June police whitewashed the sign of the Saab restaurant for displaying colors used by Kurdish militants Ankara regards as terrorists.

The development was seen by many as harassment of the Turkish capital’s growing Somali community, which has established restaurants, cafes and clothing stores there over the past few years, becoming the target of abuse in a country where anti-migrant sentiment is on the rise.

Gergerlioğlu said Abdullahı faces the risk of death if he is deported to his conflict-hit country.

He said he has been living in Turkey with his wife for more than 10 years, both graduated from Turkish universities and have friendly relations with their neighbors.

According to Neva Övünç, an expert on migration, the revocation of a person’s work permit could lead to their deportation, but if a person faces a risk to their life in their home country, deportation decisions need to be cancelled.

According to a report by the Middle East Eye in October, since the Sözcü daily featured Somali businesses in Kızılay in a report under the headline “Ankara’s hub has become Somalia” and put it on the radar of the nation in April 2021, plainclothes policemen started to pay frequent visits to Somali-owned businesses there, making sporadic ID checks and harassing customers.

The police detained a group of Somali business owners, including Abdullahı, at the time.

After being held at police headquarters in Ankara for two nights without explanation, Abdullahı and eight others were taken to a deportation center where they learned that the Ankara immigration administration had decided to launch a deportation procedure against them, MEE said.

The incident propelled some Somali business owners to quickly sell off their properties, leading to a number of restaurants passing into the hands of Turkish citizens, according to MEE, which added that for those who failed to find buyers to take over their businesses amid a nationwide economic crisis, the only option was to shut down for good.

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