The hashtag #SuriyelilerDefoluyor (Syrians out of here) became one of the most circulated hashtags in Turkey following the victory of opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu for Istanbul mayor.
Turkish sites in Arabic said that supporters of the Turkish opposition attacked Syrian refugees on Twitter, calling for them to be expelled a few hours after Imamoglu’s victory, according to preliminary results. Thousands of Turkish Twitter users used the hashtag, celebrating the victory as if it was a victory over Syrians and the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The tweets by the Turkish opposition included images they claimed were of Syrians on Turkish beaches, expressing resentment at their ability to relax while Turkish citizens can find no time to relax. They also included videos of instances of harassment attributed to Syrians and condemned their presence on Turkish territory at a time when Turkish citizens were fighting in Syria instead of them.
Turkish political analyst Mehmet Canbekli wrote on Twitter: “With the first victory by the Republican People’s Party in Istanbul, a racist hashtag against Syrians in Turkey was issued: #SuriyelilerDefoluyor.” He added that this meant, “Syrians out of here. May God help our Syrian brothers and sisters from this abhorrent racism.”
The results of the re-run of the Istanbul mayoral election, which was held on Sunday, showed a victory by the candidate from the opposition Republican People’s Party, Ekram Imamoglu, after he got 54 percent of the votes in Istanbul, which has a population of 10.56 million people.
It appears that Imamoglu’s victory has motivated thousands of supporters of his party to attack Syrian refugees, with some of them tweeting that the next step will be to expel them, suggesting they had successfully achieved the first step, which was “removing the AKP from Istanbul.” The response to the opposition tweets came from Turkish supporters of Syrian refugees, with some of them noting that Imamoglu had only won an election to be Mayor of Istanbul, not president of the country, saying that it was impossible to expel Syrians without government approval.
Other people on Twitter condemned the use of hateful language in opposition tweets, saying that Syrians had undergone the scourge of war, which had forced them to flee their country. Others noted the presence of Turkish refugees in Germany, and called on them to think of their countrymen, if they were to be subjected to a similar attack as is happening today against Syrians.
The AKP candidate Binali Yildirim recognized the opposition candidate’s victory and offered him congratulations, saying: “I hope that Ekram Imamoglu serves Istanbul well. We will stand behind him and support him in serving this city.” He also tweeted: “It’s true we lost, but democracy in Turkey won. I congratulate my opponent Ekram Imamoglu for a deserved victory and wish him success in his new post.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.