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Journalist faces investigation due to remarks targeting Syrian refugees

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The İstanbul-based International Refugee Rights Association has announced that it will file a criminal complaint against a famous Turkish journalist due to his remarks targeting Syrians who have sought refuge in Turkey.

During a program on Haber Türk TV on the evening of Dec. 14, journalist Fatih Altaylı, the host of the program, made the controversial remarks about the more than 3 million Syrian refugees in the country while discussing the coronavirus pandemic and the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine with his guests.

When one of the guests, Professor Necmettin Ünal, claimed the refugees play a role in the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Altaylı said: “They are the owners of Turkey, we are like guests. They will soon drive us out. This is because they do what they want and have no responsibility for anything. The [coronavirus] bans are not binding for them, only for us.”

The International Refugee Rights Association announced from its Twitter account on Tuesday that it would file a criminal complaint against Altaylı on allegations of blatantly targeting the refugees and “provoking the public to hatred and enmity.”

Altaylı said, “We lost Turkey to Syria without even fighting a war.” He said it was as if the Syrians had come to Turkey with 4 million soldiers and took it hostage.

President of the International Refugee Rights Association Abdullah Resul Demir told the Evrensel daily that there are around 4 million refuges in Turkey. The presence of the refugees might affect the country’s financial situation, he said, but added that nobody wants to be a refugee and it’s not a matter of choice.

According to Turkey’s Refugees Association, there were 3,635,410 Syrian refugees in the country as of Nov. 18. Syrians, who are frequently subjected to discrimination and used as cheap labor in Turkey, have been fleeing across the border since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

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