Turkey announced it would deport seven Syrian migrants accused of making “provocative” social media posts about bananas as the country faces increasing economic hardship.
The state migration service said on Thursday said the posts reportedly made fun of the economic difficulties being experienced by many Turks.
The controversy was sparked by a viral video showing a man in Istanbul shouting at a young Syrian woman and accusing migrants of “having have an easier life".
“I can't eat bananas and you buy them by the kilogram at the market,” the man said as an angry crowd gathered around the woman.
The furore spawned an explosion of response videos and memes, particularly on social media platform TikTok. One parody showed a man dressed as a ninja breaking into a home filled with expensive items, only to steal a fruit bowl filled with bananas.
Anti-refugee and anti-migrant sentiment is on the rise in Turkey, which the World Bank says hosts the largest refugee population in the world, at around five million people.
Turkey's Ministry of Interior says it has granted temporary protection to about 3,715,000 Syrians who fled the decade-long war in their home country as of September 2021.
Turkey is experiencing sharp rises in the cost of living. While the International Monetary Fund projects economic growth of 9 per cent this year, inflation is more than double that and the lira has fallen 50 per cent against the dollar since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's last electoral victory in 2018.
Some Turks blame the rise in the cost of food items and accommodation on the influx of refugees.