Turkey announced it would deport seven Syrian migrants accused of making “provocative” social media posts about eating bananas.
This is yet another attempt to shift focus from the deepening economic and political crisis towards arbitrary nonsense.
One of the most popular videos in question is from TikTok and it shows a person presumably stealing from a house, moving past car keys, mobile phones and money and taking the bananas.
The controversy was sparked by a viral video showing a man in Istanbul shouting at a young Syrian woman and accusing migrants of “having have an easier life”.
“I can’t eat bananas and you buy them by the kilogram at the market,” the man said as an angry crowd gathered around the woman.
The state migration service said the posts reportedly made fun of the economic difficulties being experienced by many Turks. Some Turks blame the rise in the cost of food items and accommodation on the influx of refugees.
The furore spawned an explosion of response videos and memes, particularly on social media platform TikTok. One parody showed a man dressed as a ninja breaking into a home filled with expensive items, only to steal a fruit bowl filled with bananas.
Anti-refugee and anti-migrant sentiment is on the rise in Turkey, which the World Bank says hosts the largest refugee population in the world, at around five million people.
Turkey’s Ministry of Interior says it has granted temporary protection to about 3,715,000 Syrians who fled the decade-long war in their home country as of September 2021.
Turkey is experiencing sharp rises in the cost of living. While the International Monetary Fund projects economic growth of 9 per cent this year, inflation is more than double that and the lira has fallen 50 per cent against the dollar since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s last electoral victory in 2018.
A quick victory is needed in Turkey’s incoming northern Syrian operations, since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to present himself as a capable leader. The focus needs to also be shifted from the hardships and towards the “military successes” against the “Kurdish enemy”.
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