Pro-Erdogan weekend rally in Germany to draw 30,000 protesters

Authorities in the western German city of Cologne are bracing for as many as 30,000 protesters at a rally supporting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of a failed coup.

The demonstration, organized by European-Turkish organization UETD, brings together supporters of Erdogan following the July 15 coup attempt, in which more than 260 people were killed. Subsequently, Erdogan has ordered mass arrests and purges of the military, government and civil service.

Cologne Police Chief Juergen Mathies said authorities would consider a ban on the protest in the event that high-ranking members of the Turkish government fly in for the event and increase security risks.

On Friday, a German-Turkish lawmaker accused authorities in Germany of vengeful acts against protesters.

German officials and politicians are using "reprisals to torpedo the basic right of freedom of assembly that is elementary to all democracies," German-Turkish national Mustafa Yeneroglu, a member of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) told dpa on Friday.

"Suddenly suppliers are bailing out, service providers are cancelling fixed contracts," Yeneroglu said, referring to bus companies and portable toilet renters. "That does not shed a good light on the current state of democracy in Germany."

Yeneroglu called the hostile posture toward the protest a "fatal signal" to German citizens of Turkish heritage: "It is inexplicable why one now feels disturbed here by a peaceful commemoration of the suppression of a bloody coup attempt in Turkey."

About 3 million people of Turkish heritage live in Germany, and the the failed coup has sown deep divisions within the community.

Erdogan addressed the issue at an event in Ankara for those who died two weeks ago in the failed coup.

"Our citizens with dual citizenships who live in Austria and Germany are not permitted to make protests," he said, in reference also to an Austrian mayor who called for residents not to fly the Turkish flag to keep foreign issues out of the town near Vienna.

"They even ban hanging the Turkish flags in their houses," he said, saying this left Turks feeling "heartbroken."

Tensions between Germany and Turkey have intensified in the weeks since the coup, which Ankara blames on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has an estimated 100,000 followers in Germany.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told broadcaster CNN Turk on Thursday that Germany should deport supporters of the cleric living there.

Last update: Sat, 30/07/2016 - 11:34
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