The worsening economic conditions in Turkey have resulted in a reversal of local sentiment against the Syrians.
Several Syrians risk deportation from Turkey after posting videos of themselves eating bananas as part of a “provocation” while “inciting hatred” following tensions between the host community and refugees about their financial well-being.
Eight Syrians, including a minor, were arrested in the western city of Izmir, the Turkish news agency Demiroren announced on Saturday. Turkey’s migration authority said earlier this week that seven more foreign nationals should be processed for deportation for related reasons.
Videos of people posing as Syrians eating bananas have emerged since October 17, when an online media outlet filmed an argument between a young Syrian woman and a group of Turks on a street in Istanbul.
In the video, a middle-aged man is heard complaining, â€œYou live comfortably. I can’t eat bananas, you buy kilos of bananas. A woman also criticized the Syrians for not having fought in the country’s war but for coming back for religious holidays.
A TikTok video posted in response showed a group of young men laughing and munching on bananas in a barbershop as the soundtrack of the street interview played in the background.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Directorate-General for Migration Management said “efforts are underway to uncover any provocative posts … and to conduct the necessary legal and administrative proceedings against all individuals who hold these posts.”
He said “deportation proceedings will be initiated” against seven foreigners after they have been processed through the judicial system, but did not specify where the detainees would be deported. The principle of non-refoulement prohibits returning a person to a place where he or she risks persecution or ill-treatment.
Istanbul police authorities said 11 Syrians had been arrested for “inciting hatred” and “insulting the Turkish people”.
Turkey hosts the largest refugee population in the world, mainly composed of 3.6 million Syrians living under temporary protection. While they were widely greeted at the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, deteriorating economic conditions in Turkey saw local sentiment turn against them.
Some Turks complain that Syrians have a higher standard of living as they struggle to pay for basic necessities amid high unemployment and inflation.