Syrians have been barred from public beaches by the mayor of Mudanya, a coastal district in the western Turkish province of Bursa, who said that he would not allow Syrians disturb Turkey’s own people, Karar newspaper reported on Saturday.
Hayri Türkyılmaz from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who was elected for a second term as Mudanya’s mayor on March 31, also attempted to ban Syrians from using beaches in 2014, Karar said.
“Nobody has the right to bother others or restrict their freedoms”, tweeted Türkyılmaz. “While our children are dying (in Syria), our mothers are crying, our economy is going downhill, we won’t tolerate our people being annoyed as they live a life of comfort”.
Turkey hosts some 3.6 million registered refugees from Syria, according to the latest United Nations figures published in May. Many in Turkey object to their presence, and the tensions have been fuelled in part by viral reports – often fake – of misdeeds by refugees, as well as inaccurate reports on the benefits offered them by the Turkish government.
Turkish news site Gazete ABC reported that a high number of Syrians had been a fixture on the beaches in Mudanya for months, likening them to an “invasion”.
The Syrians had been moved off the beaches and municipal police posted to ensure they did not return, Gazete ABC said.
“They can either conform to us or they can go back to their own country”, Türkyılmaz said.
With a reported 79 percent of Turks holding unfavourable views of the refugees, nationalist politicians have brought the issue to the agenda over recent years. This year another newly elected CHP mayor, Tanju Özcan of the north western Turkish province of Bolu, announced that he was cutting aid to Syrian refugees.