“Either speak Turkish or keep quiet!”: Turkish school accused of spreading hatred and racism against foreigners for slogans displayed on stairs

ŞIRNAK, Turkey — The Turkish Bar Association in the southeastern city of Şırnak filed a criminal complaint regarding writings on the stairs of a secondary school for “inciting the public into hatred and hostility”.

At Şehit Okur High School in Bursa, phrases such as “Either speak Turkish or keep quiet!” and “Turkish has no deficiency, do you?” were written on the stairs.

A complaint was filed with the Cizre Prosecutor’s Office to be sent to the Bursa Prosecutor’s Office.

The expression “Either speak Turkish or keep quiet!” will have a discriminative effect on students of secondary school age, spread hatred, and cause psychological harm, argued the complaint.

The school administration has targeted those who speak another mother tongue than Turkish at school, encouraging students or authorities at school to harass or assault those who speak a language other than Turkish even among themselves, it continued. The school administration has therefore committed the crime of “misconduct in office” regulated with article 216 in the Turkish Criminal Act, it argued.

Syrians residing in Turkey, including refugees, exceeds some four million. Incidents of racism in Turkey against Syrians persist with little local and international media coverage.