Erdogan’s proposal to grant citizenship to Syrian refugees sparked controversy on social media

Last night, after the Iftar dinner in the Turkish province of Kilis, which borders Syria, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that millions of Syrian refugees will be granted a chance to become Turkish citizens.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan - The President of Turkey (Image:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan – The President of Turkey (Image:

Erdogan, speaking after dinner in the province of Kilis that hosts over 120,000 Syrians, addressed refugees by saying “Turkey is your home too.” Erdogan noted that many of the Syrian refugees want to become Turkish citizens, and that the Interior Ministry of Turkey is currently working on that issue, although he didn’t give more details on the matter or specify a time frame on when this is going to happen.

The Turkish President commented on ISIS, the Syrian war,and on the Turkish-Kurdish conflict as well. He argued that the international community is insistent in its ignorant attitude on the Syrian war, blaming the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for it, and accusing him of killing his own people. Erdogan noted that ISIS doesn’t represent Muslims, and that the YPG – People’s Protection Units-doesn’t represent Kurds.

Recently, Erdogan furiously slammed the International Community, primarily the US for not recognizing YPG – an armed organization of the Democratic Union Party (PDY) that is based in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), as a terrorist organization.

Turkey’s “open-door” policy toward refugees

Currently there are around 2.7 million Syrians in refugee camps across Turkey. Together with Iraqi and Afghan nationals, the number of refugees currently hosted by Turkey is over 3 million. Recently on World Refugee Day, the Turkish Foreign ministry praised the nation’s “open-door policy” toward the refugees in a written statement.

So far, Turkey has donated over  USD 9 billion in humanitarian aid to refugees.

“I don’t want Syrians in my country” twitter hashtag

However, Erdogan’s statement proposing a chance for citizenship for the refugees sparked a hot debate on social media. The hashtag #ÜlkemdeSuriyeliİstemiyorum (I don’t want Syrians in my country) went viral this morning on twitter. The hashtag quickly became a trending topic on twitter,  attracting many xenophobic and racist comments toward the Syrian refugees as well as a lot of criticism and condemnations. Comments like “Turkey is not a refugee camp” and “Syrians should go back to fight for their country” sparked angry responses by critics who claim the hashtag is racist.

Dejan Scepanovic

Based in Bosnia and Herzegovina. BA in political science. Columnist