The Syrians will go
A phrase widely spread on billboards in Turkish cities ahead of the second round of the presidential elections, in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is competing against opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
The Turkish opposition have chosen such a racist slogan to secure a victory in this round of elections.
The main goal is to expel the Syrian refugees from Turkey and return them to their country again, even if it threatens their lives. The opposition leaders claim that it is fundamental that the Turks live safely in their country and secure jobs without any disturbance from other nationalities.
British journalist Emily Weather tweeted, commenting on this campaign, saying that a Syrian woman who has been living in Istanbul for seven years told her that she could not hide these billboards from the eyes of her children, which led to one of her young children being bullied in his school because he is Syrian and must go from here.
I have lived in Turkey for five years, and I can say that the Turkish people are very emotional and can be affected by what the media and social networking sites transmit.
You can quickly notice this in their daily behaviour in the street, means of transportation, and in public places. Unfortunately, this is precisely what Turkey experienced during the past few days. As documented by one of the subways’ CCTV, a Turkish citizen assaulted another who was wearing clothes that looked like Arab dress, ordering him to go back to his home country.
A similar incident was repeated with the correspondent of Al-Jazeera Mubasher in Istanbul, a Turkish citizen of Arab origins, where some members of the Al-Jaid party participating in the opposition coalition demanded that she return to her country and not speak Arabic in the street. Still, the matter came to assaulting her by beating her and trying to break her camera equipment.
Umit Ozdag, a Turkish politician and a symbol of hateful racist statements against refugees, announced his support for Kemal Kilicdaroglu and that an agreement was reached between them. If the latter won the presidential elections, Ozdag will be appointed Minister of the Interior, so that he would immediately begin implementing the campaign to expel Syrian refugees from Turkey and return them to an unknown fate at the hands of Bashar al-Assad, the leader of the Syrian regime.
Respect for the rule of law, individual freedom, democracy, mutual respect, and tolerance between different religions and beliefs are the five British values taught to school students in the United Kingdom. They are never allowed to be violated or ignored, and those who violate these five principles are punished.
The same applies to the press and the media in Britain and many Western countries.
There is no room for discrimination or racism on religious, ethnic or sectarian grounds. Democracy and individual freedom do not mean infringing on freedom of thought.
The strange thing is that the Western media consider Kemal Kilicdaroglu as a candidate for democracy, change and individual freedoms, and this was evident before the first round in many press reports and television coverage that was against Erdogan, describing him as a dictator who suppressed freedoms. Therefore, western media believe that it is time for Erdogan to leave so that democracy can return to the country again.
We may argue about Erdogan’s ruling, discuss the reports of some human rights organisations about the jailing of journalists in Turkey and blocking some social media platforms, analyse and refute his decisions after the attempted military coup in July 2016; however, what we cannot disagree on is that the current electoral campaign of the opposition and its rhetoric. It is classified in the West as a racist campaign that promotes hate speech and incitement against a specific group inside Turkey.
In Britain, the media criticised the decisions of the Britain’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, against refugees. When she described refugees and asylum seekers as invaders, the press described her statements as racist, demanding her dismissal from office. Likewise, most of the media in Britain did when the home secretary decided to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda; they described this decision as inhuman.
Let the British press tell us if there is a difference between Suella Braverman’s campaign against asylum seekers and Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s campaign against refugees in Turkey.
Let the British press also tell us how those who violate British values and practice racism can bring democracy and stability to a country the size of Turkey.
The truth is that these racist campaigns against the Syrian refugees and the attempt to bring them back again to a criminal, repressive regime will not bring democracy to Turkey nor will it bring stability to the West.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.