The Republican People’s Party's estrangement toward Syrians

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce, who is wandering among the people, is constantly changing form. He drives a tractor, rides a bike on stage, shines shoes, and wears a felt cap. He is trying to wipe out the CHP’s century-old elitism in an instant. He is making an effort to change the elitist history of a party – which takes its name from the people – in practice. The populism to which the left always resorts to accusing the right is this time recurring in the CHP. A political actor who is switching from one role to another, who quickly takes on the role of the people is rising. The image of standing with the people and the poor is turning into an exaggeration.

İnce’s populism, which has turned into a show, is in contrast with his statements on Syria; his image of standing with the poor is destroyed; the CHP’s deep elitism, neo-nationalism and racism surface in all its glory. The racist policies in CHP’s history are being revealed again through a political leader. İnce is turning into the historical representative of the CHP mentality again. That man in the felt cap, who drives a tractor and shines shoes goes only to be replaced by a man who has the reflex to protect Turks by seeing them through racism. An attitude which denies Turks’ role in history to embrace its brothers and sisters and instead builds a “modern, neo-nationalist, secular, selfish” role emerges. The historical role of Turks that makes Anatolia an island of peace for Muslims and presents it as the center of the caliphate is being denied.

The way İnce perceives Syrians is quite interesting: “There are 4 million Syrians in Turkey; on Eid, 72,000 of them go to Syria for the holidays and then come back. So the conditions are suitable. Why do you come back to my country? Once you go, I will close the gates and you will be left there. Is this a soup kitchen?” In the perception produced with these statements, Syrians are living in riches and welfare, they go on holidays on holy days like Eid, and they are taking our livelihood from us. Really, one cannot be more foreign to poor people and the immigrant tradition.

Syrians did not come to Turkey for pleasure. As many as 75 percent of those who came consist of women and children. They are running from a civil war. They are running away from destruction and massacre. They are abandoning their homes and destroyed cities which have been exposed to dozens of terrorist groups. On Eid, they go back and forth from close and safe places only. This is not considered a vacation. It is called visiting relatives. For Muslims, Eid is a day when they visit their elders, relatives, their sick and even the deceased. Syrians are not people who are confined in soup kitchens. There are reputable tradesmen, teachers, doctors and artists. They are making great contributions to Turkey. There are many studies on this. I am still carrying out one of them on behalf of consultant and research institution GENAR. Focusing on the “fallen” people among Syrians and judging them all based on this is a great sin. And the source of sin is ignorance – if not ignorance, then evil.

Syrians are not people favored to Turks and given jobs and wages accordingly. All these are major distortions. Take a look at Malta Street in Fatih. Take a look at the deserted neighborhoods in Kilis. You will come across a dynamism that gives life to its surroundings. Every immigration movement has a revival on the inside. There is such an aspect in Turkey with the migration of Syrians. Of course, one needs to have eyes to see this. I am not talking about the physical eye but the semantic eye that understands and contemplates.

İnce is also the member of a Balkan immigrant family that was driven to Yalova. Therefore, he should understand Syrian Muslim immigrants more than anyone else. He should be the one empathizing. Yet, the left and CHP culture from which he comes blinds him too. He is approaching Anatolia, Turks, Islam and immigrant relations like a stranger and thus, this is the language he uses toward Syrians. He undermines them. Despite his “three Bs” (Barışma (Making Peace), Bölüşme (Sharing) Büyüme (Growth)), he neither shares nor makes peace. It remains as a discourse. He speaks in the CHP mindset’s deep secular, neo-nationalist and elitist spirit. He takes on an attitude that breaks away from his immigrant background and the tradition of his mom, who wears a headscarf.

Syrians are the immigrants of Anatolia. Embracing them, treating their wounds, giving them support is our duty. This is what this state, this government, this nation is doing. And they do this by pushing the limits of their means. Syrians are our brothers and sisters who have been living with us for centuries. They are our brothers and sisters along with the Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. Conservative sociology non-governmental organizations is a sociology that lends a friendly hand to them the most with their intelligentsia, religious groups and politicians. Because, despite everything, conservative sociology is a social faction that feels its own nation awareness and sees immigrants as brothers and sisters the most.

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