[Brief 30]

Hello from Glasgow, Scotland;

Here's your weekly brief covering this week's migration-related developments and stories in and around Turkey. (Brief 30)

By Y. Emre Küçükkaya, Visiting Research Fellow, Glasgow Caledonian University
Heated debates on refugees have been sparked in Turkey since hundreds of young Syrians chanted slogans and waved the Syrian opposition party's (the Free Syrian Army) flags in the new year's eve celebrations at Taksim Square, Istanbul. This incident has heightened the already-grave anti-migrant sentiment in both social and mainstream media, as many people seem to be bothered by Syrians who try to live their ordinary lives in Turkey while the Turkish soldiers are stationed in the Syrian-Turkish border zone.

A large segment of the country seems to be discontent to see the rising visibility of around 3,6 million Syrians in Turkey's urban areas, believing the refugees cause mounting economic and social costs. Some activists, commentators and artists on the other hand strive to support the refugees and the refugee rights although their voice is barely audible. Here are two recent takes summarizing the picture:

Semih Idiz (Al Monitor) points out the interweaving of real and fictional claims:

-"Many Turks are angry, for example, over the privileges the government has been extending to Syrians while ordinary Turks struggle to eke out a living. Many also argue that Syrians are undercutting the labor market and depriving Turks of their livelihood. Also fueling the debate is “Syrian ghettoization” in Istanbul and other cities, where certain districts have been overrun with Arabic shop signs."
-"President Erdogan continues to boast about the 3.6 million Syrians Turkey has given shelter to. He also complains that Turkey has been footing the bill while European countries squabble over quotas on how many refugees they will accept. Ankara says it has spent over $30 billion from its own coffers on the refugees so far."

Ayse Karabat from the Middle East Eye shares the background story of an award-winning movie (Misafir, the Guest) based on the tragic lives of Syrian refugees in Istanbul. She also talks to Ahmet Umit, a well-known author, about his new book "Scream of the Swallow" narrating the story of refugees in Turkey. The article goes on to mention a recent poll conducted by Istanbul Bilgi University’s Centre for Migration Research last year which indicates that more than 70 percent of Turkish people see Syrian refugees responsible for the alarming unemployment and crime rates.

This briefing has been brought to you by AIMS Turkey (the Ankara Initiative for Migration Studies). AIMS Turkey is a boutique research project exploring the refugee phenomenon in Turkey from a critical standpoint to support practitioners and academics who deal with the subject.
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