Turkey moves to deport Syrian migrants for eating bananas in a ‘provocative’ way on TikTok
The Turkish government has opened deportation proceedings against at least seven Syrian nationals accused of eating bananas in a “provocative” way while participating in a TikTok video challenge, in a move that underscores rising hostility toward Syrians in a country with a reputation for being welcoming to refugees.
The challenge was inspired by an Oct. 17 encounter on the streets of Istanbul that was captured on video, during which a man complained that he could not afford bananas, a staple that has fallen out of the reach of many consumers amid a poor economy. Turning to a female Syrian student, he alleged that refugees from Syria were buying the fruit by the “kilos,” a reference to false rumors that displaced people were living in luxury off Turkish taxpayer largesse.
In response, Syrians in Turkey and elsewhere posted videos of themselves eating bananas to poke fun at the incident. In one video, a group of young Syrians sat around the room, chuckling as they ate their fruit.
On Thursday, local media reported that immigration authorities in Istanbul had detained 11 Syrians involved with the videos on charges of “inciting or humiliating the [Turkish] people with hatred and hostility,” in an action that an Amnesty International coordinator called “appalling.”
Amid double-digit inflation there has been a “considerable decrease” in “acceptance and solidarity” in recent years.
Turkish people have started looking at Syrian refugees as a “scapegoat,”. The U.N. refugee agency report suggested that more than 80 percent of Turks believe displaced Syrians thrive on government subsidies.
The mounting hostility toward Syrian refugees in Turkey has translated into violence. Law enforcement detained 76 people in August, after a mob stormed an Ankara neighborhood where many Syrian immigrants live, overturning cars, vandalizing businesses and chanting anti-Syrian slogans.