Brexit campaign stirs up fear of Turks

(CNN)The poster's message isn't subtle: The Turks are coming.

The image shows a British passport as an open door with a trail of footprints passing through. The words declare with certainty that Turkey and 76 million people who live there are joining the European Union.
A poster urges voters to "take back control" -- code for "stop large numbers of Turks from moving here" -- by supporting Britain's exit from the European Union.
    This is the latest tactic from Vote Leave, the organization leading the Brexit campaign. Members of Britain's Turkish community say it's offensive.
    "I do believe it is a proper attack [on Turkish people]," says Cemil Gonul, a 35-year-old art director who moved to the United Kingdom from Istanbul in 2003. "I just can't understand the fact that they only mentioned Turkey."
    Vote Leave says it's reasonable to focus on Turkey joining the European Union because the British government's long-stated policy is to make it happen and it poses "a dangerous risk."
    This is from the group's press release: "Since the birth rate in Turkey is so high, we can expect to see an additional million people added to the UK population from Turkey alone within eight years.
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    "Crime is far higher in Turkey than the UK. Gun ownership is also more widespread. Because of the EU's free movement laws, the government will not be able to exclude Turkish criminals from entering the UK."
    The suggestion Turks should be feared as breeding, gun-toting criminals irritates Serap Kucuk, a 27-year-old who works in a London appliance store after migrating from Turkey 16 years ago.
    "You can't just put a mark on good people because of bad people," she says.
    Vote Leave says Turkey is "due to join the EU in the next few years."
    Prime Minister David Cameron, the leading figure in the campaign to stick with the union, says half-jokingly "the year 3000" is more likely.
    A longer time frame is probably more accurate because of details in the process Brexiters aren't drawing attention to.
    Turkey's accession talks with the European Union started in 2005. Both sides acknowledge progress is very slow.
    Turkey must meet strict criteria by implementing EU regulations in 35 chapters. Only one chapter has been agreed.
    There are big obstacles. These include Turkey's long, bitter dispute with Cyprus and Ankara's refusal to recognize the government of that European Union member state.
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    The European Union has noted Turkey's respect for human rights is slipping further away from acceptable standards.
    Ultimately all EU nations have a veto on new members. So there must be a consensus on Turkey's membership. There isn't so far. Germany and France have never liked the idea of Turkey joining the club.
    These objective realities mean Turkey's EU aspirations won't be realized imminently. The Turks aren't coming soon.
    But Vote Leave hopes the suggestion will draw support for its cause from the many people concerned about immigration, the strain it places on public services and Britain's ability to secure its borders.