NGO sues mayor of Turkish town over anti-refugee hate speech
A local NGO filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against a mayor in northern Turkey over accusations of hate speech and racist rhetoric towards Syrian refugees.
Refugee Rights Turkey are suing Tanju Ozcan, the mayor of Bolu, over statements he made that contributed to a rise in hate crimes against Syrians living in the country, according to Syrian activist Taha Ghazi.
Ghazi said prosecuting anyone who fuels racism and incites hatred has become necessary in light of increasing attacks against Syrian refugees, and called on Ozcan to be tried "without any delay," in comments made to The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
"Although Syrian refugees enjoy legal protection, they are constantly exposed to attacks, hate speech and racial discrimination, especially on social media," he added.
Syrian refugees today face increasing hostility in Turkey, where hate crimes against them have spiked in recent years. Some politicians have capitalised on this for political gain.
Turkey hosts about 3.5 million Syrian refugees, who have left their country over the course of 10 years of devastating conflict.
Ozcan, whose town has a population of around 130,000, has allegedly taken several measures to push Syrian refugees out, such as raising energy and water bills, stopping aid, and even expelling some of them from the province.
"Syrians have been here for a long time. Let them go, how long will Turkey bear them?" he once said during a press conference.