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Turkey removes Arabic shop signs as refugee problem simmers

Arabic shopfronts have fallen prey to growing popular resentment over Syrian refugees in Turkey, fueled by the country’s economic downturn and cultural wars.
People walk past by a Syrian jewelry shop in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece district, Turkey, July 5, 2019. Picture taken July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan - RC1445C61E60
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The Turkish authorities have begun to remove Arabic shop signs across the country in a bid to soothe popular resentment over the Syrian refugees, which -- stoked by Turkey’s economic crisis -- has raised the political costs for the government.

Arabic shopfronts have mushroomed across Turkey since the refugee influx began in 2011, adding a distinct feature to the urban landscape in a country where Arabic script has political connotations beyond the problem of refugees. The replacement of Arabic script with the Latin one in 1928 was one of the sweeping reforms of modern Turkey’s secularist founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to transform a nation rising from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. 

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