Monday, January 17

«Ali» (28): – Afraid to say where I am from

Ali strolls along the streets of the Zeytinburnu district of Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.

– Here they have very good food, he says in sounding Norwegian, and points to an Afghan restaurant.

In this multi-ethnic area, restaurants and shops with Afghan names abound. The Afghans in the area say that they and their Turkish neighbors used to get along well, but now there are many who express unrest. So does Ali.

– Before, the Turks were nice to me. But now it’s very bad. I no longer dare to say that I am from Afghanistan, he told TV 2.

Hot trends on Twitter

Ali is not his real name. He explains that he wants to remain anonymous. He fears reprisals if he is recognized.

– It is not so wise for an Afghan to criticize Turks during the day, he says.

He adds that people often ask what country he is from, but then he resorts to a white lie that he is from Turkmenistan.

“If I say I’m from Afghanistan, they demand that I return to fight the Taliban.

He says he is intimidated by what he hears from Afghan friends who have been harassed in Turkey, and because of what he reads on social media such as Twitter.

– Every morning I wake up to a new trend list against us Afghans. They say: “We do not want them here in Turkey, we must send them all back.”

Bid in Norway

Ali has not bid in Afghanistan since he was 14 years old. Then he fled alone. He has also not had contact with his Afghan family since then.

– But I talk to my Norwegian family every week, he says with a smile.

Ali lived in Norway for five years until he was expelled in 2014.

– But in Afghanistan it was not safe, so I could not stay there.

Helped by his high grades from high school in Norway, he got a student visa in Turkey. Now he is a trained engineer. But despite top grades from one of Turkey’s leading universities, he does not get a job. He also struggled in the housing market.

– I found some dormitories online, but when I called I was told that they would not rent to Afghans, he said.

– Did they say it straight?

– Yes. It has become very difficult here.

He says that even several of his closest Turkish friends have now begun to withdraw.

– It is very sad that this is the case.

– Why do you think the mood changed?

– I think it is because the opposition here in Turkey has run a hate campaign against especially Afghans, Ali answers.

– Hat campaign

He is referring primarily to the Republican People’s Party, CHP. The party is on the rise, and in 2019 they took over the mayor’s offices in both Istanbul and the capital Ankara. This was a major defeat for the AKP, the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In 2023, there will be parliamentary elections, and CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has promised to send the Afghans home again if he comes to power.

– Our country’s biggest problem is the flume of refugees. Now we are trapped in the Afghan flume, he said on Twitter this summer.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, CPH leader.  Photo: CPH / Picture from Twitter

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, CPH leader. Photo: CPH / Picture from Twitter

The party leader claims that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Afghans will come to Turkey as a result of the Taliban taking power in mid-August.

According to experts contribute the harsh rhetoric of the opposition to force President Erdogan’s AKP party to pursue a stricter refugee policy. Opinion polls also suggests that xenophobia in Turkey has increased in line with the country’s economic problem.

– Europe has tricked Turkey

At one of the Turkish cafes in the Zeytinburnu district, they wholeheartedly agree that the refugees and migrants have cost Turkey dearly, without contributing significantly back.

TE: - Do they have Turkish coffee ?, TV 2's photographer asks hopefully.  - No, just tea, it comes in cash from daily camper Ferruh Incesoy.

TE: – Do they have Turkish coffee ?, TV 2’s photographer asks hopefully. – No, just tea, it comes in cash from daily camper Ferruh Incesoy.

– The vast majority of migrants work illegally. They do not contribute to the economy, says Ferruh Incesoy, who is a daily camper at the café.

He flies back and forth between the tables and the teapot. The sweet, Turkish tea goes down the aisle with the guests while they eagerly answer TV 2’s questions. They say that most Turks have noticed that times have become much tighter economically, and that they therefore do not understand why they should spend the country’s limited public funds on refugees and migrants. They believe the EU must step in.

– Europe has really tricked Turkey into the refugee issue, says one of the guests, Recai Memis.

- CHEAT: Recai Memis, on the left, feels cheated.

– CHEAT: Recai Memis, on the left, feels cheated.

As a result of the controversial return agreement from 2016, the EU has given Turkey huge sums in exchange for Turkey trying to prevent the refugees and migrants from fleeing further towards the union. But the café guests mean that it is only Turkey that has kept its part of the agreement.

– Europe has broken its moral and economic promises, Memis states, and points out that Turkey already houses more refugees than any other country.

– Go to the EU

But the objections do not stop there:

– The refugees have a different way of living, and do not want to adapt to our way of life. They do not fit into our society. This creates a tense situation between us and them. That is why confrontations occur from time to time, says Incesoy, while the guests vote in favor.

Ali will now apply for a master’s degree in another country to escape Turkey.

– There are many other Afghans also who want to leave here because of the hate campaigns, he says.

– Turkey already houses millions of refugees and migrants. Do you understand that they have had enough?

– Yes maybe it. But what should the Afghan refugees do then? You can no longer live in your own country.

At the Turkish cafe, they claim to have the answer: Afghans can move on to the EU.

– Everyone must take their share of the burden. Turkey can not carry the load alone, says one of the other guests, Cemal Yerli.

From the sidelines, Incesoy sends a clear message to countries further west in Europe:

– Europe can not do without Turkey. If we go down, everyone goes down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *