Turkish Interior Ministry to file complaint against opposition mayor over anti-Syrian remarks

Lütfü Savaş

Turkey’s Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı on Wednesday said the ministry would file a criminal complaint against an opposition mayor in southern Turkey for his anti-Syrian remarks, the Kronos news website reported.

Lütfü Savaş, mayor of Hatay from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said three out of every four babies born in Hatay were Syrians and that the province might have a Syrian mayor in 12 years.

In response to Savaş, Çataklı tweeted that a quarter of all births in Hatay were to Syrian mothers, accusing him of lying and using “racist rhetoric” towards Syrians who have taken refuge in Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday pledged not to send refugees who fled civil war in Syria back home and slammed CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for his anti-Syrian remarks.

“They [the CHP] say they will send refugees back home if they come to power. We won’t,’’ he said during a speech at an awards ceremony held by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).

Following President Erdoğan’s remarks, Kılıçdaroğlu has on Wednesday called for a referendum on whether the country should grant citizenship to Syrians.

Kılıçdaroğlu had earlier promised to send Syrians back home if his party comes to power.

“Under our rule, we will come to terms with our Syrian guests and see them off to their homeland in two years’ time. This will be one of the most important priorities of our government. Our plans and programs are ready. I wanted to leave this video here as an assurance of this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Tanju Özcan, another mayor from the CHP, also said an additional water and solid waste tax 10 times the normal tax would be imposed on refugees living in Bolu.

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 Syrians in Turkey.

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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