Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will open one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne today. Seeing the planned protests, police will provide him protection.
Erdogan is on a three-day state visit to Germany and the inauguration will be his closing event of the visit. Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both leaders signalled their interest in a cautious rapprochement on Friday.
Citing the Turkey’s treatment of minority Kurds, approximately 10,000 Erdogan critics will make their way to the streets in Cologne and will protest everything from Turkey’s record on human rights and press freedom. On the other hand, his supporters will also gather at the Cologne Central Mosque. A maximum of 5,000 people would be allowed to attend the opening ceremony, said by Police of Cologne.
The Cologne branch of Ditib posted on Facebook they wanted the ceremony to be a beautiful example of both communities coming together. They asked attendees of the event not to bring political banners or shouting slogans.
The state dinner in the welcome of Turkish leader was boycotted by several opposition politicians. Chancellor Merkel also skipped the banquet.
Erdogan will visit North Rhine-Westphalia state on Saturday. North Rhine-Westphalia is a place where numbers of ethnic Turks (many who moved to Germany as so-called guest workers from the 1960s) live.
The anti-Erdogan demos plan to protest in Cologne with the banner “Erdogan Not Welcome”. They will collect at a few kilometres (miles) away from the neighbourhood of the mosque.
After eight years of contruction period, the giant Cologne Central Mosque opened its doors in 2017 with a budget overrun. The building is designed to resemble a flower bud opening, and its two towering minarets has disgruntled some locals, triggering occasional protests.
The Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (Ditib) is itself not without controversy. They run hundreds of mosques across Germany, and its imams are paid by the Turkish state.
Hannah Weber is a seasoned journalist with nearly 10 years experience. While studying journalism at FernUniversität Hagen, Hannah found a passion for finding engaging stories. As a contributor to Deutch News, Hannah mostly covers human interest pieces.