Municipalities Discussed How to Become an Intercultural City

Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) in cooperation with Union of Municipalities of Turkey, Çukurova Municipalities Union and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions organized the 7th “Local Governance and Migration Meeting” on 24 June 2020 within the framework of the RESLOG - Turkey Project. In the online meeting, the concepts of intercultural cities and intercultural dialogue and what these concepts are meant for migration governance at the local level were addressed. The meeting was broadcasted live on Zoom and YouTube in an interactive method, especially with the active participation of officials from migration departments of local governments.

The meeting was started with the opening speeches by Ms. Burcuhan Sener, MMU Migration Policy Center Director, Mr. Sinan Özden, RESLOG-Turkey National Project Manager, Ms. Merve Agca, MMU Project Coordinator, and Ms. Gül Tuçaltan, RESLOG-Turkey National Project Coordinator. Then, Dr. Nihal Eminoğlu from Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University made a presentation on her latest book titled “Intercultural Cities: Intercultural Dialog as a Tool for Social Cohesion” which came out as part of RESLOG Local Governance and Migration Publication Series. In her presentation, Dr. Eminoğlu firstly addressed the question of why we should embrace the culture of living together out of the security and developmentalist approaches. From the security perspective, she argued that the social peace will be harmed if the locals and migrant communities do not approach to each other since this process ends with marginalization and ghettoization of the migrant populations and feeds mutual hate between locals and these groups. On the other hand, she drew audience’s attention to the fact that every migrant arrives with certain potential and migrants can contribute to the development of host communities.

Dr. Eminoğlu, then, moved to the methods that politicians use to govern differences among the different social groups. After introducing the first three models, namely assimilation, integration and multiculturalism, she addressed the forth model, interculturalism, in detail. She emphasized that interculturalism accepts differences among social groups, and treats these differences as equals, as multiculturalism does. Unlike the multicultural societies, in the intercultural societies, social groups interact and communicate, which prevents the formation of parallel societies within one locality.

In the last part of her presentation, Dr. Eminoğlu touched on the importance of intercultural dialogue in building intercultural cities and how to improve these dialogues among the groups. She underlined that the struggle against hate speech and rumors within the form of misinformation and slander about migrant groups is essential to establish a healthy dialogue among incoming populations and the local communities on the local level. Some of the ways that she pointed out to deal with hate speech and rumors on the local level are the followings:
 - Identify the rumors about migrant groups within the city and determine your strategy accordingly
- Develop new arguments basing on true data to eliminate the misinformation
- Strengthen the cooperation between local actors and civil society and form a network consisting of those actors to struggle against rumors
- Counteract rumors with examples and arguments which evoke empathy and desired emotions among the locals
- Struggle against hate speech in every platform (such as social media etc.)
- Identify the conditions which prepare the ground for hate speech and take an action to eliminate these conditions
- Preparing educations on human rights and promote these educations among the youth in your locality.