Opposition CHP mayor under investigation over Twitter post on Syrian refugees
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor of Turkey’s southern province of Hatay is under investigation over a tweet in which he pointed to the increasing number of Syrians in the country, independent news site Diken reported on Sunday, citing Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
“Our [southern] towns of Reyhanlı, Yayladağı, Altınözü are such a state that if a Syrian were to announce their candidacy as mayor, they would win. They will be able to win win Kırıkhan in five years. And in 10 years they could win the province of Hatay,’’ Lütfü Savaş said on Twitter, in an apparent reference to region's large Syrian refugee population.
Soylu, during a speech on Sunday, said "Look at what the mayor of Hatay is saying. If you choose to provoke society the way you do, then this is how we respond. Be a man and you respond, too.''
Turkey is home to some 3.6 million refugees and Turkey’s leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) has come under fire over its years-long open door refugee policy, particularly as Turkey heads to the polls on March 31 for local elections.
The Turkish interior minister earlier this week announced that 53,099 Syrians living in Turkey were eligible to vote in the March polls, which prompted a reaction from opposition parties who maintain the group will vote in favour of the ruling AKP.
More than 70 percent of Turkish people believe Syrian refugees are taking their jobs and two-thirds think Syrians are responsible for increasing the crime rate, according to a poll conducted by Istanbul Bilgi University’s Centre for Migration Research in 2018.