After minister’s threat to detain tourists linked to terrorism, Turkey says all are welcome

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A tourist takes a selfie as Suleymaniya mosque is seen in the background on March 1, 2018 at Karakoy district during snowy day in Istanbul. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday claiming that all tourists are welcome after Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu vowed the day before to detain and deport tourists at airports if they are suspected of links to terrorism.

“Turkey will continue to welcome tourists coming from all over the world with hospitality,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, as reported by the Hürriyet Daily News. The ministry blamed the German media for spreading a “baseless allegation.”

Although the Foreign Ministry claimed that the interior minister’s remarks were distorted, his threat came during a rally in the run-up to local elections on March 31 and was clear and on the record.

Soylu, a critic-turned-supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said it would no longer be possible to act like a traitor overseas by attending events of terrorist organizations targeting Turkey such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and then come and enjoy vacation resorts in the country.

His remarks in Sakarya province were reported by Turkeypurge.com with a video subtitled in English. Soylu has been targeting members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in particular at election rallies.

In addition to the PKK, the government often accuses the HDP of supporting terrorism, jailing its local and national officials.

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