Turkish police in Adana remove Arabic store signs on 'orders of local council'

Turkish police in Adana remove Arabic store signs on 'orders of local council'
With racism against Syrians becoming normalised in Turkey, a video emerged on social media purporting to show Turkish police removing Arabic language storefront signs.
2 min read
25 July, 2023
Arabic language signs began to appear in parts of Turkey after millions of Syrians fled to the country [Getty]

A video showing police taking down Arabic storefront signs in the city of Adana in southern Turkey has recently gone viral on social media platforms.

The video, which was viewed over two million times purported to show Turkish police officers holding large sticks and cutting devices, and removing and ripping Arabic language signs down but keeping Turkish ones intact.

According to Turkish journalist Ibrahim Haskologlu, the police were ordered to take down the Arabic storefront signs by the Adana Metropolitan Municipality.

The video emerged amid an upturn in xenophobic and racist sentiment towards the at least 3.5 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

During the recent presidential election, the leader of the opposition CHP, which runs the Adana Metropolitan Municipality, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said he would deport all Syrian refugees from Turkey within two years and accused his opponent President Erdogan of “deliberately allowing 10 million Syrians into Turkey”.

Racist rhetoric and violence against Syrians have become commonplace in in the country, with the Turkish opposition and far-right groups scapegoating them for Turkey’s dire economic situation, especially in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that rocked Turkey earlier this year. 

Turkish politicians exploited the earthquakes to scapegoat Syrians, accusing them of looting and claiming Turks would be better off if not for the presence of Syrians.   

Some Syrians are now scared to walk alone in the streets for fear of attack, with murders even being linked to anti-Syrian sentiment.

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The issue of the Arabic language and its perceived increased use in Turkey has been a lightning rod for the far-right.

In May, Al Jazeera journalist Rokaya Celik was attacked in Istanbul by a member of the far-right Iyi (Good) Party (IP) after he overheard her speaking Arabic.

“This is a Turkish Republic … there is no place for Arabs here,” her attacker said.

This isn't the first time Arabic language signs have been forced to be removed on orders of local ruling councils in Turkey.

In 2017, the Hatay municipality, also run by the CHP, ordered the Arabic language to be removed from public signs calling it “visual pollution”.

Adana, which was badly affected by the earthquakes, is thought to be home to around 240,000 Arabic-speaking Syrians, most of whom fled to Turkey during the Syrian civil war.