Syrians no longer to be registered in Istanbul, says Turkish interior minister

Turkish authorities will no longer register Syrians in Istanbul, excluding exceptional cases, Turkish Interior Minister said on Saturday.

Minister Süleyman Soylu said measures against irregular immigrants was priority for the interior ministry during an event in Istanbul organised by the Directorate of Migration Minister,  Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Istanbul hosts nearly one-eight of the 4 million of Syrians living in Turkey. Some are not happy with their presence, accusing them of establishing ghettos in some neighbourhoods of Turkey’s financial and cultural hub that is home to 16 million people.

“Nobody will be allowed to wonder about without any official registration. Employing illegal immigrants, street trading by illegal immigrants will not be allowed. Moreover, measures will be taken to avoid ghettoisation,” Soylu said.

One measure by the ministry aims to avoid the mobility of Syrians in Turkey, Soylu said, adding that Syrians are obliged to have travel permits and to register their home addresses.

“Apart from exceptions, we will no longer register Syrians in Istanbul. Istanbul is closed to the registration of Syrians,” he said.

The minister also said that recent inspections in the city to limit the use of Arabic signs aimed at ensuring compliance to existing rules and laws. According to existing laws, at least 75 percent of the signboards must be in Turkish.

Turkish government has stepped up measures against Syrians in Istanbul after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost mayoral elections in the province, which has been ruled by the AKP and its predecessors for 25 years.

The issue of Syrians was at the centre of local polls in March in Turkey, while several reports and interviews with AKP supporters in Istanbul’s conservative districts indicated that frustration against Syrians drove a shift in favour of opposition candidate and current mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in the June 23 Istanbul rerun.