Southern province of Adana bans Arabic signboards

The mayor of Adana, a major city in southern Turkey, ordered removal of Arabic signboards of shops, mostly owned by Syrian migrants.

The state-run news agency Anadolu said the signboards were “illegal, caused visual pollution and harmed efforts for protecting Turkish language.”

A total of 35 shops in Seyhan and Yüreğir districts have their signboards removed, the report said.

Hürriyet, a mainstream Turkish newspaper, said the decision is binding for the future shop owners, and no Arabic signboards, nameplates or posters will be allowed in the province.

The images provided by Anadolu showed signboards of small shops selling food or clothing items, being removed.

In November, a restaurant owner in Istanbul sued the Fatih district municipality after the mayor’s office sent a notice to shops for the “removal of Arabic letters from signboards,” Hürriyet reported.

Nizar Bitar, the Syrian owner of the restaurant, protested the decision that limits signboards with the Latin alphabet.

“Most of the Arabs don’t speak Turkish, and they look for the Arabic signboards, just like Turkish tourists do in Syria, Saudi Arabia and even in Germany,” said Bitar, “If I change my signboard, I would lose 70 per cent of my customers.”

There are about 3.4 million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey and the country is increasingly becoming a hub for Arab tourists.