Banana dispute mirrors Turkish hostility towards Syrian refugees
31 people are under investigation for videos posted online; 11 have been arrested and 7 already repatriated. The clash originated from a protest by a Turkish citizen who, due to the crisis, says he cannot even afford bananas. The Turkish ruling class, majority and opposition,after years of welcoming refugees in the name of Islam wants to send them back to Syria.
Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) -Turkish authorities have detained and deported a group of Syrian refugees for sharing "provocative" images and videos online in which they eat a banana. The controversy around the fruit of "discord" was born in recent days, when a Turkish citizen complained that poverty now prevents him from buying the basic foods of everyday life, including a kilo of bananas. The cause of the crisis, according to him, is due to the huge amount of refugees that Ankara hosts on its territory. Hence the ironic response of some Syrians, which, however, did not please the authorities.
"“You’re living more comfortably. I can’t eat banana, you are buying kilograms of banana,” said a Turkish man as he chided a female Syrian student in a Oct. 17 video taken in Istanbul. A Turkish woman joined in, accusing the Syrians of enjoying lavish lifestyles in Turkey rather than going back home to fight, dismissing the student’s explanation that she has nowhere left to return to.
At the moment 31 Syrian refugees are under investigation, 11 of whom have been arrested and seven deported across the border for their "provocations". Another 11 suspects are at large and the police have begun a search to locate them. Among the charges are those of "fomenting hatred and hostility" in public opinion. At a time of serious crisis, not only economic but also social, the videos represent a sensitive issue that risk fomenting anger among citizens, while the government is committed to placate the discontent and the decline in consensus that concerns the same majority party Akp (Justice and Development Party).
Moreover, the front against migrants is increasingly broad and seems to unite government and opposition. In an interview with the Hurriyet Daily News, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition party in Turkey, vowed in September to send all Syrian and Afghan refugees back to their homes within two years of coming to power. “I am very sensitive on this issue. I am not racist. I’m not angry at the people who came here, but at the people who made them come here,” said Kılıçdaroğlu during a meeting in September, adding that Turkey can "hardly feed itself and cannot take the burden of the refugees.
In a nation of 82 million inhabitants, which has welcomed up to 3.6 million Syrian refugees, the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have added to an economic and financial situation that had already become difficult in the last period. And that has, in fact, transformed the neighbors from "Muslim brothers" to be welcomed according to the slogans of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to unwanted guests who take resources away from the local population and exacerbate social poverty.