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German town removes statue of Erdogan after protests

Updated August 30, 2018

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Wiesbaden: Firefighters lift a four-metre tall golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the early hours of Wednesday. It had been placed on Monday as part of Wiesbaden’s Biennale art festival.—AFP
Wiesbaden: Firefighters lift a four-metre tall golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the early hours of Wednesday. It had been placed on Monday as part of Wiesbaden’s Biennale art festival.—AFP

BERLIN: German firefighters on Wednesday removed a golden statue of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on security grounds after it provoked an angry response from local people.

Organisers of an arts festival whose theme this year is “Bad News” had installed the four-metre statue of Erdogan, with one arm outstretched, on a plinth in the central Square of German Unity in the western town of Wiesbaden on Monday.

But the statue got daubed with graffiti, including the slogan “Turkish Hitler”, German media reported, and a few hundred residents had protested against it.

Police said they could no longer guarantee people’s safety so firemen used a large crane to take away the statue under the cover of darkness in the early hours of Wednesday.

Some three million people with Turkish roots live in Germany and Erdogan, who in June won re-election with expanded powers, is due to make a state visit to Berlin on Sept 28-29 as part of efforts to improve relations strained by years of disagreement on a range of issues.

“It is certainly appropriate to conceive of Erdogan as a controversial figure, and one that we are allowed to discuss freely here in this country,” the director of the biennial festival, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, told Reuters when the statue was erected on Monday. “We can have a discussion about this statue and this man.”

While some residents liked the statue, others objected. “This is a man who has hundreds of people on his conscience ... because he has lied and bought his way to power. He’s a dictator,” said resident Werner Starotsta.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2018