Local journalists condemned for anti-refugee, sexist remarks during TV program

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Two journalists took a hammering for humiliating and sexist remarks about Afghan refugees during a live program aired by a local TV station in western Turkey, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Friday.

During the program Murat Karakaş, the owner of the Egedesonses radio station and news website, told the host that they would gladly accept “women refugees” from Ukraine, but what they get are “bearded” refugees from Afghanistan, referring to them as “disgusting.”

The sexist, anti-refugee wording used by Karakaş was slammed by the İzmir Journalists Association (İGC), which called on him to apologize for his remarks.

“Murat Karakaş, who advertises himself as a journalist at the Egedesonses news website, has uttered unacceptable remarks about women and refugees. This racist, sexist and denigrating rhetoric is unacceptable,” a statement issued by the İGC said.

In other videos posted on his website, Karakaş was seen making anti-refugee remarks and hosts guests who readily make the same kind of comments.

There has recently been an increase in hate speech against migrants in Turkey with a new wave of arrivals from Afghanistan. Prominent people who have publicly welcomed migrants have been targeted and called traitors.

Refugees in Turkey have been increasingly targeted by hate speech and hate crimes and are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic ills.

Anti-refugee sentiment has also been expressed by opposition politicians. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu recently promised to send Syrians who took refuge in Turkey fleeing the civil war in their homeland back to Syria if his party comes to power, fomenting more xenophobia among the Turkish people. He said Turks who can’t find jobs or make ends meet cite the presence of Syrian refugees as the reason for their economic situation because of the cheap labor they provide in the Turkish job market.

The municipal council of the northwestern Turkish province of Bolu recently approved by a majority vote a controversial proposal made by Mayor Tanju Özcan, from the CHP, to impose an additional water and solid waste tax 10 times the normal tax on refugees in Bolu in order to persuade them to leave.

The “Hate Speech and Discriminatory Discourse in Media 2019 Report,” published by the Hrant Dink Foundation, states that Syrian refugees in Turkey were the second most targeted group in the Turkish media, with 760 hate speech items. According to the report, Armenians were the most targeted group in 2019 with 803 hate speech items.

The report states that Syrians were systematically coded as criminals, murderers and thieves who posed imminent security threats including terrorism.

According to UNHCR Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. The country is currently home to some 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees along with close to 320,000 persons of concern from other nationalities.

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