The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is using Syrian refugees in Turkey to direct attention away from the country’s ailing economy, Egyptian news site Ahram Online said on Tuesday.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is failing to address myths about Syrian refugees, including their alleged entitlement to free tuition at Turkish universities, five-digit monthly salaries, and free medical care, it said.
Ahram highlighted recent detentions of Syrian nationals over “provocative” videos in which they are eating bananas.
The videos are meant as a satirical commentary on footage of a Turkish women claiming Syrians enjoyed the fruits by the kilograms as Turks could not even afford them, which went viral.
Several Syrians in the country were detained over the footage, with Turkey’s Immigration Directorate saying they would be deported.
Ankara’s threat of deportation “shows a bankruptcy of policy,” according to Omar Kadkoy, a policy analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.
“Do the Syrians have no right to express their views when they are faced with discrimination or use sarcasm against anti-refugee myths? What does this say about freedom of expression?’’ Kadkoy asks.
Turkey’s some 3.7 million Syrian migrant population has been faced with a wave of xenophobia in the country that has become bolstered by the country’s high unemployment rate and ailing economy.
Ahram pointed to Turkey’s intensified military activities in Syria also coincide with domestic problems in the country, noting that opposition circles believe that Erdoğan is manoeuvring to deflect public opinion away from troubles at home ahead of the next elections scheduled for 2023.
Noting that Erdoğan has a history of using military build-up against the Kurds in Syria to rally support around him and his party and to divide the opposition, Ahram said that Turkey’s amassing on its border with Syria currently remains nothing more than “muscle flexing.’’
Meanwhile, the Turkish public opinion is looking grim for the Turkish leader and his party, it said, citing recent opinion polls.
The AKP has around 31-33 percent of the vote compared with 42.6 percent at parliamentary elections in 2018, Reuters said last month, levels which would lead to Erdoğan losing control of parliament at the next election.