KLAUS – Would you live next door to a foreigner?

Would you live next door to a foreigner?The Turkish capital Ankara is enduring its annual summer heat wave. Yet some citizens’ tempers seem to be flaring more than usual.

Think traffic: Even the slightest right-of-way infringement triggers angry comments car windows lowered, drivers’ voices raised. Was 2013 less hot?On the one hand, at any moment an argument about otherwise negligible issues might erupt amongst people unbeknownst to each other waiting for the same bus.

On the other hand, some members of the electorate debating serious politics are not immune from issuing misleading statements, eitherIn this context, last week I overheard a comment (most definitely a minority comment, but even so) about the number of Syrian refugees living in Turkey and that their very presence has become unbearable. “Overhearing” whilst having a glass of tea is the correct word: Despite the fact that I wholeheartedly disagreed with what was being said I thought it would be much better to refrain from entering into an argument.

This was done in line with the above-highlighted omnipresent danger of degree Celsius-related verbal warfare. Instead I decided I would use the not-to-be-shrugged-off inclination of those remarks as a reference for this very column.

It was said that all Syrian refugees are living in this country for free, without contributing to society or the taxman. You could spot them easily by the way they dress.

It was mentioned that “on every street corner in the capital” — an exaggeration of cosmic proportions — a group of refugees either sits or stand but, in any case, remains idle. “Idle” as in not working.

Then the discussion moved onto the subject of the fact that “we” as Turks do not have the same rights as the refugees and that the government treats “us” unfairly.Figuratively speaking, this columnist’s ability to stay calm under pressure was nearing boiling point.

What I wanted to but did not utter in reply is the following: Mankind has a duty to support those in distress. When a civil war breaks out in a neighboring country, we simply have the non-negotiable task of unwaveringly lending a helping hand by a) arranging for humanitarian goods and funds to be shipped across the border, in coordination and cooperation with a charity — the International Red Cross or the United Nations for example — and b) opening our hearts and our border gates, too, for those innocent victims who have no other choice but to leave their belongings and homelands behind out of fear for their own lives.

Any government would depend on the public’s goodwill in this regard — “goodwill” as in realizing the seriousness of the situation on the ground in Syria Understanding that not a single Syrian citizen ever wanted to lead a life as a refugee. Helping those who are here to feel welcome, not treating them as though they were aliens.

Refraining from looking down on people in need. And what is this notion about the point quoted earlier in this piece, that they have never worked in Turkey? Of course they have not they are refugees desperate for shelter and a square meal each day.

If those who moan about the humanitarian efforts of the Turkish government vis-à-vis the Syrian refugees and that they cost taxpayers’ money would each donate TL 10 per month to charity — now that would be something. But no the refugee problem is a government problem They only complain.

Perhaps not everyone can financially help the refugees living amongst us but a majority most definitely already can. My aice: Stop criticizing, do something positive!I silently asked myself, what would be the next step, according to this minority? Forcing all Syrian refugees to leave? Then what? Demanding all other foreign residents to leave, too, as part of a clean sweep? And then what? Shutting down the tourism industry as “we do not want to holiday next to a foreigner?” Not even mentioning the “disgrace” of having to live next to a foreigner, too.

Oh dear I really hope cooler climes await around the next street corner, that moderation and common sense return to those of us who temporarily seem to be blinded by the light of the sun. This of course applies to me, too, in cases when I have lost the plot.

But have I really.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman