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Turkish court imposes injunction on anti-refugee mayor’s policies

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A Turkish court has imposed an injunction on the implementation of the anti-refugee policies pushed by a mayor in northwestern Turkey who recently introduced controversial measures to convince refugees to leave the city, local media reported.

The Bolu City Council in November approved a proposal imposing exorbitant fees on foreigners to access public services and marry in the city, in an attempt to deter them from settling there.

According to the decision, foreigners would be required to pay a fee of TL 100,000 (around $7,500) for a marriage license, while it normally ranges between TL 500 ($37) and TL 1,500 ($112). Additionally, foreigners would be made to pay a $2.50 tax per 1 cubic meter of water, while Turkish citizens pay more than 10 times less.

An administrative court in Bolu province, however, imposed an injunction on the implementation of the policies, which were pushed by Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Commenting on the court’s decision, the mayor said people who like refugees would be overjoyed with the court’s decision but that his battle against the increasing number of refugees in the country would continue.

“My battle is not finished. What I am saying is, ‘They will go as they came.’ We have no means left to take care of refugees or asylum seekers. We have no bread left to share with them,” said Özcan.

Özcan repeatedly said he would charge extra fees for foreigners who required municipal services, attracting criticism from rights groups.

When he was first elected as mayor of Bolu in 2019, Özcan’s first act was to cut municipal aid given to the Syrian refugees in the city as he had promised during his election campaign.

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

Turkish media including pro-government and opposition outlets fuel and exploit the flames of hatred against people who fled their countries and sought refuge in Turkey.

Anti-migrant sentiment has also been expressed by opposition politicians. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has promised to send Syrians back home if his party comes to power.

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