Inquiry launched over controversial law in Bolu province
Turkey’s Interior Ministry has launched an inquiry into Tanju Özcan, the mayor of the northwestern province of Bolu, after a controversy over a law enforcing an eleven-fold increase in water bills and a markup in fees for performing a marriage ceremony for foreigners.
The decision will be evaluated in line with the principles of “equality before the law” from the constitution and “equality and prohibition of discrimination” mentioned in the Turkish Human Rights and Equality Institution Law, according to a ministry source.
Articles from the Turkish Penal Code on “hate and discrimination,” “provoking the people toward enmity and hostility” and “misconduct” will also be taken into account while reviewing the mayor’s actions.
Legal evaluations of the investigation will be shared with judicial authorities, relevant institutions and organizations, according to the source.
A draft proposing to increase water bills to $2.5 per cubic meter and a whopping 100,000 Turkish Liras ($7,750) cost for civil marriages for foreigners was accepted during a meeting of the Bolu Municipal Council on Nov. 22.
Özcan noted that the water bill does not apply to all foreigners and only applies to those who have obtained residency permits under the scope of law no. 4658 and not those with refugee status under the scope of the Geneva Convention.
He was elected as Bolu’s mayor with 44 percent of the votes in the 2019 elections and had previously come to the fore with his anti-refugee statements.