Several Syrians face deportation from Turkey after posting videos of themselves eating bananas on social media amid wider complaints about the supposed lifestyle of refugees.
Eight Syrians, including one minor, were detained in the western city of Izmir, Turkish news agency Demiroren said on Saturday. The Turkish migration authority said earlier this week another seven foreign nationals were to be processed for deportation for related reasons.
Videos of people purporting to be Syrians eating bananas sprung up since footage from an online news outlet emerged on Oct 17. It showed an argument on an Istanbul street between a young Syrian woman and a group of Turks.
A middle-aged man can be heard complaining, “You’re living comfortably. I can’t eat a banana, you’re buying kilos of bananas”. Meanwhile, a Turkish woman joined in. She accuses the Syrians of enjoying lavish lifestyles in Turkey rather than going back home to fight. She dismisses the student’s explanation that she has nowhere left to return to.
One TikTok video posted in response showed a group of young men laughing. They munch on bananas in a barbershop as the soundtrack of the street interview played in the background.
Syrians, not only those in Turkey, shared mocking videos of them eating bananas in response. One video, initially published on TikTok, shows a group of migrants chuckling while they eat the fruit.
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The Directorate General of Migration Management released a statement on Wednesday. “Efforts are underway to uncover all the provocative posts,” he stated. “And to carry out the necessary judicial and administrative procedures against all individuals who make these posts”.
It said “deportation proceedings will be initiated” against seven foreigners after they had been processed by the justice system. However, they did not specify where those detained would be deported to. The principle of nonrefoulement prohibits returning someone to a place where they face the risk of persecution or mistreatment.
Istanbul police authorities said they detained 11 Syrians for “inciting hatred” and “insulting the Turkish people”.
Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population, mostly made up of 3.6 million Syrians living under temporary protection. They were largely welcomed at the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. However, the worsening economic conditions in Turkey have seen local sentiment turn against them.
Some Turks complain Syrians have higher standards of living. They claim to struggle to pay for basic necessities amid high unemployment and inflation.
As the war took a toll on Syria earlier, many countries welcomed the Syrians trying to flee their home which was in a mode of destruction.
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