Wiesbaden in Germany removes gold statue of Turkey's President Erdogan

Bystanders look at a gold statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the city of Wiesbaden's Square of German Unity Image copyright EPA
Image caption A golden statue of Turkey's president received a mixed reception in the German city of Wiesbaden

The German city of Wiesbaden has removed a 4m (13ft) golden statue of Turkey's president after it was defaced with the words "Turkish Hitler".

The statue of Recep Tayyip Erdogan was installed in a square as part of Wiesbaden's Biennale arts festival.

Organisers said they had hoped it would spark discussions linked to this year's theme - "bad news".

Instead, it prompted conflict between Mr Erdogan's supporters and critics. Firefighters moved it on Tuesday night.

City councillor Oliver Franz told the Wiesbadener Kurier newspaper that angry words had escalated into physical scuffles, and "bladed weapons were spotted".

"In agreement with state police, Mayor Sven Gerich decided to have the statue removed as security could no longer be guaranteed," the city's government tweeted.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Firefighters moved the statue under cover of darkness

Germany has a significant Turkish minority, whose varied attitudes to Mr Erdogan reflect those in Turkey itself. Some back his nationalist politics, while others accuse him of authoritarian tendencies.

Relations between Germany and Turkey have been frosty in recent years - not least in March 2017, when Mr Erdogan compared German officials to Nazis.

The insult came after German authorities cancelled rallies he had hoped would woo ethnic Turkish voters in Germany, ahead of a key referendum.

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Media captionPresident Erdogan makes Nazi Germany taunt

In August the same year, a month before Germany's general election, Mr Erdogan called the country's ruling politicians "enemies of Turkey" who deserved to be rejected by voters. His remarks were sternly condemned by German ministers.

The artists behind the statue said they had only meant to spark a public debate.

"In a democracy, we have to put up with all kinds of opinions," observed Wiesbaden city theatre chief Eric Laufenberg.

Mr Erdogan is scheduled to make a state visit to Berlin in late September.

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