Far-right İP's anti-refugee election banner draws criticism

Sabah photo

A mayoral candidate of the far-right Good Party (İP) has used election banners in Istanbul's Fatih, a district that hosts a considerable number of Syrian refugees, pledging to clear the district of Syrian refugees, which have drawn criticism for provoking social unrest with their anti-Syrian rhetoric.

"I will not leave Fatih at the hands of Syrians" the banners read, which is supposed to be the main election motto of the İP's district mayoral candidate İlay Aksoy.

The public and some politicians expressed criticism on social media channels.

In one of her rallies, Aksoy vowed that she will eliminate all the signboards written in Arabic, and stated that "my official language is Turkish, and it will stay as Turkish," remarks that are very similar to the types of commnets made in Europe and the U.S. out of the fear of immigrants.

She further added that Syrians are taking the jobs of people in Fatih and she does not want any irregular refugees in the district.

In the face of mounting criticisms from the inhabitants of Fatih, the banners were removed. However, the İP administration has patted Aksoy on the back. On Saturday, İP Deputy Chairman Ümit Özdağ criticized the municipal authorities for removing the banners on his official Twitter account, saying that "you cannot frighten İlay Aksoy."

Despite the government's welcoming policy towards Syrians, which is also supported by the majority of the public, the İP and its ally the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) have been propagating anti-refugee rhetoric in Turkey by targeting Syrians during with their political language. In June 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and İP Chairwoman Meral Akşener adopted a populist and exclusionary interpretation of nationalism in a bid to garner votes.

In his speech at a rally in Giresun in 2017, Kılıçdaroğlu said: "There's no money for farmers, but do you know how much has been spent on Syrians? $30 million. They've become first-class citizens.

The price of hazelnuts has made people in the Black Sea Region second-class citizens. You will ask for an account of this," using this rhetoric against the refugees.

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