Turkish court overturns controversial move to hike foreigners' bills


A court in the north-western Turkish city of Bolu has overturned a controversial city council vote to significantly hike water bills and civil marriage fees for foreign nationals.

The administrative court threw out a Bolu city council decision from November to increase water bills by more than 10-fold and charge 100,000 lira (7,540 dollars) for civil marriage ceremonies for foreigners, state broadcaster TRT reported. The details of the ruling, or whether the city would appeal the decision, were not immediately clear.

Bolu mayor Tanju Ozcan had been under fire over his xenophobic remarks since becoming mayor in 2019, including from his Republican People's Party (CHP).

Ozcan, who had sparked criticism after he proposed cutting social aid to migrants in 2019, already faces a probe for allegedly inciting hate and discrimination. His party separately started a disciplinary process concerning the mayor, the CHP said in November.

Turkey is home to 5.29 million foreign nationals, 3.7 million of them Syrian refugees under temporary protection, according to government data.

The number of Syrians registered in Bolu stands at a mere 1.4 percent of the city's population.

Anti-migrant sentiment in Turkey has been recently on the rise, reaching its peak with the killing of three Syrian workers in a suspected arson attack in the western city of Izmir in November.

An angry mob attacked workplaces, apartments and injured several Syrians in the capital, Ankara, last August.    (dpa)

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