D5.1 Country Report | May 2021

Authors: Hasret Dikici Bilgin, Nazlı Özekici, Istanbul Bilgi University

The open-door policy of the Turkish government at the beginning of the Syrian civil war forced the government to shape the refugee issue around a narrative of religious solidarity and Turkey’s rising role as a regional actor. However, the extended stay of Syrians in Turkey along with the exacerbating economic and political conditions expanded the negative perceptions to the wider sections of society beyond the partisan sympathies. In this context, the report argues that both the pro-government and opposition media unite in their anti-refugee attitude, despite the general atmosphere of polarization on almost every other issue. In the meantime, the official policy regarding the Syrians remains the same. The government sources are also aware of the fact that the extended stay of the refugees created resentment in the local population beyond the party belongings. Hence, the government responds through its media platforms by reiterating the claim that the government did the right thing by giving refuge to the Syrians and indirectly putting the blame on Syrians that the negative consequences are caused by some of the refugees. In other words, the government media acknowledges and absorbs the anti-refugee attitude, yet, directs the responsibility towards elsewhere. For this reason, the report analyses anti-refugee videos in Turkey to show how cultural radicalization in the form of anti-refugee attitude is mainstreamed even by the pro-government sources despite the official policy.