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Seaside apartheid: Turkey city 'to ban Syrians from entering public beaches'

Antalya is famous for its beaches [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 June, 2019

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The Turkish municipality of Gazipasa almost installed a ban on Syrians entering publich beaches until it was vetoed in the last minute.

A municipality in south-west Turkey has tried to ban Syrians from entering a beach earlier this week, after a racist backlash from locals.

The municipality council in the Gazipasa district of Antalya, run by opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) put forward a motion to install a ban on Syrians in public beaches amid locals complaining about the presence of Syrians.

According to CHP Councilman Ulas Ozgen, who put forward the motion, locals complained of feeling like “refugees” in their own country, saying they were uncomfortable with Syrian refugees enjoying Turkish beaches.

The motion, which was put forward on Tuesday, claimed some Syrian refugees were caught photographing locals and other tourists at beaches – deeming that enough reason to ban all Syrians from the public shorelines.

The motion also called for the municipality to establish reserved areas specifically for Syrian refugees.

The motion was was debated when 13 councilors voted in favour and later adopted.

Antalya’s mayor Mehmet Ali Yilmaz told reporters after he abstained from voting on adopting the motion because he disagrees with discriminatory policies, noting those who harass others should instead be punished individually.

"In the end, we have to pay attention to human rights. Our district is also a touristic region. We shouldn't be looking at the nationality of those who have arrived. If the person visiting is bothering our people, we should do what is necessary," the told reporters.

"We used to issue warnings to those bothering our citizens before we adopted the motion. We will inform security forces if necessary," he added.

Later on in the day, Yilmaz vetoed the new motion.

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