Istanbul authorities working to limit Arabic shop signs

The Istanbul governor’s office said on Wednesday that Turkish authorities has inspected the Arabic shop signs in Istanbul’s three districts in order to ensure conformity to the rule that 75 percent of signs should be in Turkish, BBC Turkish reported.

The inspections were made in Fatih, Zeytinburnu, and Bayrampaşa neighbourhoods, which host shops belonging to some half a million Syrians living in Turkey’s largest city.

The inspections in three pilot districts had started on June 15 and will continue to include Istanbul’s 39 districts, the governor’s office said.

The inspection arrives after Ekrem İmamoğlu, the newly elected mayor of Istanbul, criticised the excessive Arabic signage during a television programme this week, noting that Turks could not read the shop signs in certain districts of the city.

Mayoral police in Istanbul’s Esenyurt, a district that hosts a considerable Syrian population, also inspected shops last week, removing Arabic signs.

“We will ensure that all shop signs will be transformed into Turkish throughout Istanbul in a short time. They will be 75 percent in Turkish and 25 percent in other languages,” deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı said.

Some 531 Arabic shop signs in the southeastern town of Kilis, where Syrians make up 80 percent of the population, were also removed on Tuesday.

According to official numbers, Turkey is home to 3.6 million Syrians. The number of total Syrian population in Turkey is estimated as 4 million, including those who live in the country illegally.