Rotterdam mayor says police had permission to shoot in crisis with Turkish minister

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Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb

Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, told Dutch media on Tuesday that the special police deployed during a Turkish minister’s attempt to reach her country’s consulate on Saturday were authorized to shoot.

In reference to the security detail of Turkish Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, the mayor said: “We did not know if these ’12 broad men’ were armed. Despite repeated attempts, we were unable to make contact with the consul general,” as he explained why the Dutch police were given permission to shoot during the crisis. Aboutaleb said there was a risk of the minister’s guards drawing their weapons.

A crisis broke out between Turkey and the Netherlands over Turkish efforts to wage a political campaign overseas for an April 16 referendum in Turkey. After Turkey’s foreign minister threatened the Netherlands with sanctions if they were not permitted to speak to Turkish citizens in that country, the Netherlands revoked clearance for the minister’s plane to land. In response, Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya crossed the border into the Netherlands from Germany by car on Saturday. After she was prevented from entering the Turkish Consulate General residence, protests broke out in Rotterdam and Dutch police used force to disperse supporters of the Turkish government.

Throughout the crisis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the Dutch of resembling the Nazis. In response, the mayor of Rotterdam said: “A little sense of history can’t hurt. I am, coincidentally, the mayor of a city that was bombed by the Nazis.”

On Sunday, the mayor had said that he was misled by the Turkish consul general, who told him Minister Kaya was coming to the city not to deliver a political speech but for a visit.

Aboutalib said Consul General Sadin Ayyıldız told him that Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Kaya would not deliver a speech to campaign for an April 16 referendum in Turkey. The mayor said the Dutch authorities prevented the holding of a political event after he was misled by Ayyıldız.

The Turkish government has been criticized for conducting political rallies across Europe to win the support of millions of Turkish citizens eligible to vote in Turkish elections.

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