Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a municipal banner targeting the Syrian migrant population in northwestern Bolu province, Diken news site reported on Thursday.
Titled “Last call from the Municipality of Bolu to Migrants,” the banner signed off by Mayor Tanju Özcan urges the province’s Syrian population to leave, saying their “time as guests” has “come to an end.”
Accused of racism over his anti-migrant policies, Özcan has made headlines in recent years over his statements targeting Syrians and discriminatory regulations, including charging migrants utility bills that are 10 times the amount of Turkish nationals.
“Your status as guests has dragged on for too long. You can see the financial crisis in our country. Our youth are unemployed and families are living below the line of poverty,’’ the banner written in Turkish and Arabic says.
“Just as you arrived, it is your time to leave. You are no longer wanted (here). Return to your country,’’ it added.
Turkey’s Syrian population has been faced with a wave of xenophobia in recent years, with anti-refugee sentiment being bolstered by the country’s high unemployment rate and ailing economy.
There are some 3.7 million Syrians in Turkey under a temporary protection status.
Around 2,300 Syrians were living in Bolu in 2019, making up less than 0.01 percent of the city’s 310,000-strong population.