Yet again Syrians are the target of racism - ÖZLEM ALBAYRAK

Yet again Syrians are the target of racism

The article the previous day was to bid farewell to 2018 and today's article was supposed to ring in 2019. It did not happen, because, once again, we were left face-to-face with a deep dark example of racism. The target was Syrians again and the location of the incident was Taksim Square. Syrians who gathered at the square and accidentally made the mistake of celebrating New Year’s became the topic of the young year. The countless comments made on the video posted on social media, clearly contemptuous, insulting, and abusive, ranged from how Syrians are able to raise the Syrian flag in our country, their deviation, to how they are war deserters.

I know, most people are heartless, there is no limit to their ill intentions and ruthlessness that knows no bounds. Hence, we have - unfortunately - become accustomed to such hate speech ranging from that spewed by suburban old ladies to major writers. Still, I cannot help but wonder, why is even a fleeting moment of happiness considered too much for those who had to abandon their homes, lifestyle and history, why is it too much for those who had to leave loved ones behind to save their lives and sought refuge in another country?

Why do these people always have to be in grief, their head hanging low, resigned to their miserable conditions, and used to being pushed around and despised?

They also oppose the sight of women and children due to what they call "visual pollution,” yet because they’re aware it’s going to come across as impolite, they do not say anything on that matter. They cling on to the "Why did Syrian men run away from war?" argument, which seems like it carries some legitimacy. If Turks were in the same situation, supposedly the men would never turn their back on war. And those who are saying this are the same people who talk about abandoning the country every time they open their mouth, simply because Turkey is not being run by a government they like.

In a region where one cannot see beyond their nose from the dust, which is muddied by terrorist organizations, and swarmed by international forces that are no better than terrorist organizations when it comes to the killing of civilians, what were Syrians supposed to defend fighting for an army whose soldiers who refused to shoot their own citizens were executed? And yet, aren’t those who took up arms against Bashar Assad in a bid to protect their country not called "terrorists" in the anti-Arab book of arguments?

Islamist or secular, most of us are standardizationists. We considered the Greeks, Armenians, all foreign elements sources of threat for years. The more cities became crowded and their make-up changed ethnically, we became disturbed, we could tolerate foreigners as long as they were tourists who spent heaps of foreign currency.

When Syrians arrived, anti-Arab sentiment mixed with xenophobia resulted in more hate and fury, reaching an unprecedented level of provocation. This is also the reason behind false statements such as, "hospitals are free for Syrians, the state is paying Syrians' rent, Syrian youth are accepted into university without examination," that had been spreading for years through the grapevine and most of the time we have been trying to avoid hearing.

Yet, blocking one's ears in fears that they will increase does not put an end to those lies, it helps them metastasize. Pick anyone on the street, who relies on television news only as a source of information, and ask them, and they will try to convince you that the above lies are true. Of course, the main opposition party's irresponsible deputies, their racist outbursts and statements played a great role in this.

Having come to this point, it is our duty to assert that various multi-identity multi-ethnic, multilingual, multi-faith, in other words, multicultural cities and countries are the world's most advanced in every aspect. True, xenophobia was the trend in the first half of the 20th century, especially in Europe. There was a constant and strong outbursts of nationalism, human rights were ridiculed and despised, foreigners were perceived as threats against the integrity of countries, and militarism was on the rise, national security was being drummed up to spread "fear," and there was no limit to the discrimination and corruption people faced based on their personal characteristics.

The world suffered as a result.

Hitler, Mussolini and other inhumane regimes, the masses that blindly supported and believed them have not only gone in history as a national monument of shame, but also as a lesson for those to come after them.

Did we learn our lesson? It seems not.


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