July 22, 2024

A group of pro-government journalists and writers in Turkey have released a video, titled We Are One Nation, in Turkish and Arabic, condemning the recent treatment of refugees and migrants in the country.

In the video, published on the account of a magazine called Gercek Hayat on Saturday, the speakers addressed the Arab world, asking them to: “Hear this call.”

The journalists, speaking in Turkish and Arabic, said Muslims are one nation and claimed that some people in Turkey are “sowing seeds of racism”, apparently referring to reported violent incidents between Turks and foreigners in the country.

‘Siblings from past to eternity’

Using the evocative language of pan-Islamic unity, the journalists repeated their messages.

“We, Muslims, are and will remain siblings from the past to eternity. We are one nation,” they said.

“We Turks are a nation that has been known for its hospitality in every period of history and has embraced Muslims. Those who claim to be Turks and practise racism have nothing to do with the values of the Turkish nation,” the journalists added.

The video went on to claim that some people in Turkish society are trying to “spread discord among Muslims today as they did 100 years ago”.

They said: “Racism is forbidden in Islam. We are all one people, we are Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Georgians and others. We are all part of the same nation.”

Increase in violence against non-Turks

Violence and verbal abuse between Turks and Syrians have been increasing in the country, and nationalist rhetoric is on the rise following the presidential and parliamentary polls in May, which saw nationalist parties increasing their votes.

The communal tensions have climbed further as Turkey goes through the worst economic crisis in decades.

About 3.3 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey with temporary protection permits, Turkish authorities say. According to the United Nations refugee agency, 5.2 million Syrians have been forcibly displaced because of the Syrian conflict that started in 2011.

However, various opposition parties in Turkey say their count shows that the number of refugees in Turkey is more than 10 million.

“Arab-hating primitives only damage the reputation of our country and nation, contributing to the issue,” Oznur Kucuker Sirene, a writer who participated in the video, wrote online.

“I am in favour of the voluntary and safe return of refugees to their countries. I am sure that a large part of them will want to leave under favourable economic conditions,” she said on X, previously known as Twitter.

She added: “The remaining part can stay with the right integration policy, learning Turkish, active participation in business and education.”

The Turkish government recently toughened its policies in large cities against refugees under “temporary protection” status, asking people in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and economic hub, under this status but registered as living elsewhere to leave the city before a deadline.

Otherwise, they will face being deported to the Turkish cities they were first registered in when they arrived in the country.

Istanbul governorship says that authorities will carry out regular identification checks to detect these individuals.

Syrian market street 2
Employees and customers in a Syrian restaurant in Fatih, Istanbul [File: Umut Uras/Al Jazeera]

The video released by pro-government writers and journalists received mixed reactions from Turkish citizens on social media.

X user Nurcan said some people in Turkey have double standards when it comes to foreigners.

“Those who are hostile to Arabs and expatriates in Turkey offer pork meat to the British and Germans in hotels in Belek and Fethiye,” he said on X.

He added: “When the British buy real estate in Fethiye, there is no sound, but when an Arab buys a property in Trabzon …”

Another user said Arab tourists coming into the country are seen “as enemies in the same way as incoming refugees”.

“This is a wrong [situation] producing another wrong [situation]. Tourists are separate,” the user named Ned said.

Loppidi disagreed, writing on X that Turks have no problem with tourists, regardless of their ethnicity.

“We do not want refugees, asylum seekers, those who get citizenship with money. No one has a problem with tourists,” the user said.

Derin_Turk said Turkey’s refugee policy is self-destructing, writing on X: “As we enter a period when the resources in the world are running out, global warming, world population increase, rapid depletion of water resources have reached an extreme stage, taking so many refugees to the country is to shoot ourselves in the head.”

Many others opposed the categorisation made in the video.

“Being a Turk has nothing to do with religion,” Jahrein, an influencer, wrote on X, addressing the video contributors.

“As a Turk, I am not one nation with the Islamic world. My nation is the Turkish nation,” Serkan J Inci said.

“Arab is another nation, German is another nation. What are you doing, brother? Have you lost your mind?”

Talcin Solak said: “It is called an ummah, not a nation. And speak for yourself.”

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