The representation of (Syrian refugees and other) Immigrants in Turkish Media

Syrian refugees

While talking about migrant in Turkey (most of them Syrian refugees) we can notice that there are two kinds of perspectives which reflect two different ideologies or parties. The first one is the representation of immigrants from the pro-governmental media and the other one is from the opposition media. The first one is characterized by the humanitarian help the Turkish government is providing and some success stories of how they could pass through all the difficulties and could succeed. The other one is characterized by the stereotype of the refugee and how they are “stalling” from Turkey and Turkish people taxes and having more benefits than Turkish citizens themselves. It is also characterized by hate speech, racism and discrimination against the immigrants.

 During my search for the article from both pro-governmental and oppositional online newspaper and portals I have used as a keyword “multi/refugee”. I have chosen randomly from the most important and most influential from both of the two online media the Centre, center right, such as Hurriyet, Hurriyet Daily News, Daily Sabah, AnadoluAjansi and the so-called nationalist and kemalistmedia such as: Sozcu, Cumhuriyet, Aydinlik, Milliyet.Capture 2

While talking about those two kinds of representation, I have classified the articles and analyze them one by one according to the nature of the article and not according to the classification of the media and its nature.

When Turkish media, and Turkish people in general, talks about Syrian refugees they use the term “guests” and less “refugee”, this depending on the media and the perspective or from which point of view they use the term. One can notice the tone of the term from the context: it can be used to identify “someone who is just passing nearby and will leave soon” or it can identify “someone who is so precious to us as a guest so we’ll take care of him and treat him as a guest”.

We are all aware of the influence media has in shaping the reality around us or the representation of different realities in different societies. In an article on  Al-Monitor, Mustafa Akyol claims that: However, we should also see that Turkish nationalism can be a purely secular ideology, and that is why some of the most zealous Turkish nationalists are staunchly secular. This helps us to understand this representation in Turkish media. So taking into account this statement we can surely say that one of the most important factors which influence this difference in representing Syrian refugees from the kemalists is nationalism.

On the other hand, religion is another important factor and also being a sympathizer of the current majority party. Religion, especially because in the name of the brotherhood there is a moral responsibility not only for other people of the same religion but also for the “guests”. In Islam, the notion of the guest is very important and from Islamic teachings, lots of attention is given to this category of people.

These are some examples of some article titles

About promoting Turkey’s aid and opportunities:

“Malkoç: Suriyelilerinyüzde 80’i kalacakgibigörünüyor/ Malkoç: 80% of Syrian refugee seems they will stay in Turkey”. In this article, it was mentioned that according to a report to be presented in front of the President of Turkey, 80% of 3 million of Syrian refugees in Turkey are going to stay. The report was conducted in two main cities, Kahramanmaras and Kilis, interviewing refugees in the refugee camps.

“Halep’tengelenSuriyelileriçin 7 TIR dolususütyardımı/ 7 Tracks with milk to Halep“

“No solution for Syria without Turkey: Analyst” 

“Turkish prime minister’s family funds Syrian aid” 

“Promoting decent work for Syrians: The ILO experience”. This article talks about how Turkey has become a major refugee-hosting country after an unpredicted increase in the displacement of Syrian refugees since 2011, according to the strategy of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Turkey.

 “Turkey and the Syrian refugee crisis: An example for humanity”

About education system and the benefits from the Turkish government 

 “Suriyeliöğretmenlere ‘akademisyen’ eğitimi/ Academic training to Syrian teachers and educators”. The Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF has provided a training course of 80 hours to a number of 20 thousand of Syrian teachers.

 Eyeing Olympics, Syrian children learn taekwondo at Kilis refugee camp”

“ Over 800,000 Syrian children to be integrated into Turkish education system” 

“UNICEF: Türkiye’dekiSuriyeliçocuklarınyüzde 40’ı okulagitmiyor/Around 40% of Syrian children don’t attend school “ 

UNICEF: Suriyeliçocuklarınyüzde 40’ı okulagitmiyor/ Around 40% of Syrian children don’t  attend school” 

“Some 60 percent of Syrian children in Turkey have access to schooling: UNICEF” When talking about the percentage of the children attending school the difference between the two articles is obvious: while the pro-governmental newspapers focus on what is present (the percentage of those Syrian children, which makes up the majority of them), the oppositional party newspapers focus on what is missing (the percentage of those children who don’t attend school which makes the minority of them).Capture 1

Related to the security issue:

“Sivas Haberi: Sivas’ta 19 kaçakmülteciyakalandı/ At Sivas 19 refugees escaping under arrest”

“İzmir’de 2 ayrıoperasyonda 113 mülteciyakalandı/At Izmir in two different operations around 113 refugees were arrested” 

“Göçmenkaçakçısı 8 kişitutuklandı/ Around 8 people form refugees were detained”

“Mülteci trans kadınlarşiddetedahafazlaaçık”/Transgender Syrian women are more likely to be persecuted”

In some cases the voice of the newspaper speaks with the mouth of Syrian refugees:

‘Mecburkalıpgeldik, sizi de rahatsızettik/ We were forced to leave and we came here bothering you”

“Yine mi dindarnesil? Again a “next generation” of religious people?” 

Capture“The Syrian children in our country are struggling with understanding and knowing a culture and a language of a country they don’t know.  According to some statistics, Syrian children in our country around 85% of them live outside the camps and according to the same survey, 85% of them don’t want to leave Turkey. The last number: in 5 years the number of the Syrian babies is around 200 thousand. Do you know what does this mean? It means that in the nearest future this number will shock the balance of the population and will cause a dramatic social problem. Unfortunately, no one is engaging with this issue, not the parliament, neither the media nor other powerful institutions; they just left this problem in the hand of the “presidency”. And in the middle of all this, there is also any “strategic, suitable plan”

This is an interesting article from OzlemGurses which I wanted to focus more because of the way she has constructed her idea: she starts with the cultural obstacles, statistics, and surveys about the number of Syrian children, a new generations, that according to those numbers and to the author they will grow up in this country. And yet, according to her, this means a huge cultural crush for both communities They may integrate, become citizens with full rights as other Turkish citizenship but they will still be “an obstacle” and a “shock of the balance of the population”.

Written by: Denada Dosti  (MA Student of Journalism at Ankara University)

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