Istanbul municipality takes down shop signs in Arabic
A district municipality in western Istanbul has started taking down Arabic shop signs, citing a new regulation stipulating that shop signs must include at least 75 percent Turkish words, Demirören News Agency reported on June 29.
Esenyurt has one of the highest populations of Syrian immigrants in Istanbul. Since the start of the Syrian war, thousands of refugees settled in Esenyurt, with many Syrian businesses starting to pop up in the district after.
After a series of complaints filed against Syrian businesses by Turkish locals, the Esenyurt Municipality undertook new measures. Esenyurt Mayor Ali Murat Alatepe personally attended hygiene checks at Syrian businesses in recent days, shutting down several restaurants that allegedly did not comply with legal standards.
The latest move came on June 29, when shop signs that included less than 75 percent Turkish words were taken down by municipal authorities.
“People struggle to understand what is being sold here and there when they look at the signs. The government [in Ankara] said in a new regulation that the minimum threshold for Turkish words is 75 percent. As the municipality, we were also working on a new regulation to make the limit 70 percent,” Alatepe told the agency.
Esenyurt Municipality also added a new clause to the regulation, enforcing restaurants to use air filters. According to the report, the air filter clause was primarily designed to “prevent the strong smell of spices used in Syrian food spread in the district.”
“We are receiving positive feedback from the Syrians, too,” Alatepe said, vowing to keep up with the hygiene and language checks.
With the new measure, Esenyurt has become one of the most ardent implementers of regulations, as so many Arabic-language signs are still visible in many districts of Istanbul, like Fatih, and in other cities with large Syrian communities, like the southeastern border province of Şanlıurfa.