Binali Yildirim, the mayoral candidate of People’s Alliance, the alliance between Turkey’s ruling AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, said on a televised broadcast on Monday that he would send Syrians back “if they disturb the peace of Istanbulites”
Days before Turkey’s local elections to be held on March 31, Yildirim appeared on the pro-Government channel 24 TV to answer reporters’ questions.
Yildirim was asked about his comments on the controversial election banner of the mayoral
candidate of the Good Party (IYI) for Istanbul’s Fatih district, which read, “I will not yield Fatih to the Syrians,” during the broadcast.
Yildirim, former speaker of parliament and the last PM of the parliamentary system that ceased to operate after the 2018 general elections, said that the country let the Syrian
migrants in to protect them from being killed.
“If Syrians disturb the peace of Istanbulites, cause a security problem, or influence the order
and pace of daily life in a negative way, this will not be without consequences. No offense.
We cannot tolerate this. We will seize them and send them back. The bottom line
here is the comfort of Istanbul and Istanbulites,” asserted Yildirim.
His official campaign account on Twitter posted his remarks in a tweet.
“Suriyeliler İstanbullunun huzurunu bozar, güvenlik sorunu oluşturur, buradaki düzeni ve normal yaşamı olumsuz etkilerse bu durum karşılıksız kalmaz. Buna hiç müsamaha edemeyiz ve onları geri göndeririz çünkü asıl olan İstanbullunun huzurudur.”
— Binali Yıldırım İletişim Ofisi (@BA_Yildirim) March 25, 2019
Reactions were mixed, with some followers condemning his rhetoric as racist, some saying it
was all words and no action, and some trying to redeem his statement by saying that it was
taken out of context.
In reaction to the tweet posted on Yildirim’s campaign account, one user posted a tweet
reading, “The tweet about Syrians shared by Binali Yildirim is horrifying. The responsibility
for a crime is personal. Should we write it everywhere? In 2019? Syrians do not commit
crime. Ahmet, Hasan, Ayse does. You cannot associate an ethnicity with crimes.”
Bu arada Binali Yıldırım’ın Suriyeliler hakkında attığı tivit korkunç. SUÇ BİREYSELDİR. Bunu her yere yazalım mı, yıl 2019. Suriyeliler suç işlemez Ahmet, Hasan, Ayşe suç işler. Bir grubu etnisiteyi suçla anamazsınız.
— klkurdu (@klkurdu) March 26, 2019
A city with nearly 15 million residents, more than half a million Syrian refugees are residing
in Istanbul, according to the figures given by Turkey’s Interior Ministry in 2018.
Turkey hosts more than 3,5 million Syrian refugees according to the data given by the office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously vowed to resettle Syrians who fled the
ongoing armed conflict in their country.
Syrian migrants who came to Turkey due to the civil war in Syria are provided with temporary protection by the Turkish government instead of refugee or asylum seeker