German police leery as pro-Erdogan protest planned in Cologne

German authorities are eyeing a planned Turkish demonstration in the western city of Cologne set for Sunday, with police saying it might have to be cancelled if violence seems likely.

Tensions related to Turkey have been high in the weeks since a failed July 15 coup against the government. The government has responded since then with purges of the military, government and civil service and pinned the blame on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

About 3 million people of Turkish heritage live in Germany, making it susceptible to clashes within Turkish society.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told CNN Turk Thursday that Germany should deport supporters of the cleric living there. Gulen was once a close ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but he now stands accused of trying to oust the president.

The Sunday demonstration is being planned by Erdogan supporters.

"At the moment, I see no reason for a ban," said Cologne police chief Juergen Mathies on Friday. That could change if high-ranking members of the Turkish government fly in for the event and change the security calculus.

But he said he would only cancel the demonstration as a last resort.

The head of the Turkish community in Germany said he is seeing exacerbated tensions since the coup.

"Friendships are being broken up. And there are problems within families," Gokay Sofuoglu said in comments to dpa on Friday. Diverging opinions about the coup have left a division in Turkish society, he added.

He said he can only call for calm amid the disagreements and remind all sides that people are allowed to demonstrate and express their opinions in Germany.

Last update: Fri, 29/07/2016 - 12:46
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