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Turkey releases Syrian journalist who posted 'provocative' banana video

Majed Shamaa was detained and threatened with deportation after posting a video protesting against discrimination
In a video posted by Syrian journalist Majed Shamaa, Syrian refugees are seen eating bananas to protest against discrimination in Turkey (Screencapture/TikTok)

Turkey has released Syrian journalist Majed Shamaa, who spent nine days in detention over a humorous video about claims that locals cannot afford to buy bananas while Syrians in the country can.

Shamaa, a journalist working for Orient News who has lived in Turkey for seven years, was detained and taken to a repatriation centre in Gaziantep province near the Syrian border last week, pending a decision on whether to deport him. 

His lawyer Mehmet Ali Hartavi told Reuters on Monday that Shamaa had been released and would return to Istanbul on Tuesday.

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Last month Syrians in Turkey shared footage of themselves eating bananas, following a video on social media showing a Turkish citizen saying that he could not afford bananas while Syrians were buying them "by the kilogram".

The videos outraged many Turks, prompting authorities to detain foreign nationals over "provocative posts" of them eating bananas. The Immigration Directorate said those detained would be deported.

Shamaa is known for his satirical style. In the video he is seen buying bananas in a secretive manner and hiding away to eat them out of sight.

Hartavi said Shamaa had not intended to mock anyone with the video and wanted to address Syrians' problems in a humorous way.

Shamaa had feared being executed if sent back to Syria, prompting rights groups to call on Turkey for his release.

Some 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently live in Turkey, but sentiment towards them has recently soured. Turkish food prices have soared in recent months and some Turks say the government provides more economic support to migrants.