Syrians risk deportation from Turkey due to banana videos

Seven Syrians risk deportation from Turkey after posting videos of themselves eating bananas on social media amid broader complaints about refugees’ alleged lifestyles

The seven, plus a Syrian minor, were detained in the western city of Izmir on Friday, the private news agency Demiroren reports. Earlier this week, the Turkish Migration Authority said seven more foreign nationals should be treated for deportation for related reasons.

Videos of people pretending to be Syrians eating bananas have surfaced since footage from an online news outlet surfaced on October 17 showing an altercation on a street in Istanbul between a young Syrian woman and a group of Turks.

A middle-aged man is heard complaining: “You live comfortably. I can not eat a banana, you buy kilos of bananas. ” A woman also criticizes Syrians for not fighting in the country’s war, but for returning to religious festivals.

A TikTok video released in response showed a group of young men laughing while munching on bananas in a hair salon while the soundtrack from the street interview played in the background.

Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population, mostly made up of 3.6 million Syrians living under temporary protection. While they were largely welcomed at the beginning of the conflict, the deteriorating economic conditions in Turkey have seen local sentiment turn against them.

Some Turks complain that Syrians live comfortably in Turkey while struggling to pay for the basics due to high unemployment and inflation.

The demiror reported that detainees in Izmir were to be deported for “threatening public order and security.” The minor was transferred to a youth agency.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Directorate-General for Migration Management said that “deportation proceedings will be initiated” against seven foreigners after they had been dealt with by the judicial system.

It added that “efforts are under way to expose all the provocative posts … and to carry out the necessary judicial and administrative procedures against all persons holding those posts.”

The following day, Istanbul police said 11 Syrians had been detained for “inciting hatred” and “insulting the Turkish people”.

It was not clear where the detainees would be deported to. The principle of nonrefoulement prohibits returning someone to a place where they risk being persecuted or abused.

Turkey insists on respecting and complying with these rules, but groups such as Human Rights Watch have documented allegations that Syrians have been sent back to their country.

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