Turkish mayor says Syrian refugees should pay ten times more for water than Turkish locals
The mayor of Turkey's Bolu region has been called out for "racism" after saying he would introduce a measure at the local assembly to multiply water and waste tax costs for "foreigners".
He was previously slammed in 2019 for stopping Bolu Municipality assistance for refugees, the outlet added.
"They overstayed their welcome. I do not have the authority to force them out of the province with the municipal police", he reportedly said at a meeting on council property, according to Hürriyet Daily News.
Meanwhile, many users on social networking sites suggested accusations of racism should be lodged with authorities, Daily Sabah reported.
It was not, however, clear from the reporting if this was meant on a legal or administrative level.
For its part, the Turkish Human Rights and Equality Agency on Monday evening said it was monitoring the mayor's comments.
However, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler, a member of the ruling AK Party, rebuked Özcan.
"I ashamedly listen to the racist and provocative words of [Republican People's Party] Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan toward Syrians. It is our humanitarian duty to help those in need and share our bread."
Other Republican People's Party officials also came out against the mayor.
This included party deputy leader Mehmet Bekaroğlu took to Twitter to say "this mentality is not only against the Constitution but also conflicts with conscience and humanity".
He argued that his "is a social-democratic party, its programme does not include xenophobia, it will never accept such an initiative that smells of hate speech".
Regardless of the strong opposition to his suggestions, Özcan did not give way to the pressure.
Talking to journalists on Monday, the mayor commented: "They didn’t go when we cut off the aid. They didn't go when we ceased issuing business permits. So, we have now decided to take new measures".
Then, on Tuesday he emphasised that he "stand[s] behind everything [he] said".
He also claimed that every non-Turk would be impacted by the measure.
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The mayor, who is also a lawyer and said his aim with the policy was to get "foreigners" out, dismissed any possible consequences against him and invited any possible legal complaints against him.
Özcan added: "I know people will talk about human rights and they will call me fascist. I simply do not care."
The mayor's suggestion is to be debated next week by local politicians.
The Republican People's Party and its friend, the Good Party, are five seats up on Erdogan's AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party, though the latter is considered far-right.