Jun 26 2019

Syrian student's success reignites debates on Turkey’s refugees

A Syrian boy, who pulled off the difficult taks of correctly answering all questions in the nationwide Turkish high school entrance exam, has rekindled a debate in the countr on Syrian refugees.

Muhammed Halil has been living in the southeastern town of Kilis along the Syrian border for five years. His father, who is an architect, has been working in a furniture workshop.

Muhammed, who is among the 565 students that scored perfectly in the exam, now has the option to attend Turkey’s top schools.

His success has divided Turks on social media with some saying that Syrians should be returned to their country, some calling the reports fake news and those praising him. 

“I congratulate him. But he should continue his education in Syria. His visit to Turkey is over. They should return,” one Twitter user said

“I am sure he attained this score without entering the exam,” another Turk said on Twitter. 

“Though I believe the government is pursuing an incorrect policy on refugees, I congratulate him whole-heartedly,” another Twitter user, Ünal Bolat, said.

BBC Turkish reported on Monday that, in Istanbul’s Fatih, a district known as the stronghold of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the AKP lost support in Istanbul mayoral election on June 23 over resentment related to Syrian refugees.

Turkey is home to some 3.6 million registered refugees from Syria, according to the latest United Nations figures published in May. A study last year found 86 percent of Turks wanted Syrians to be sent back to their homeland. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that up to 1 million Syrians would return home, after Turkey established a safe zone in northern Syria along the Turkish border. 

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.