German police halted a demonstration in Cologne on Saturday after some 15,000 Kurds took to the streets to protest Turkey’s incursion into the northern Syrian region of Afrin, AFP reported.
According to police the march was dispersed due to banners in the crowd displaying symbols of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which are prohibited in Germany.
The protest was organized by NAV-DEM, a Kurdish association believed to be close to the outlawed PKK, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Two people were arrested at the protest, which was held a week after the Turkish military launched an offensive targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.
More than 2,000 police officers were mobilized in advance for the march.
Some of the placards carried by protesters read “Freedom for Kurdistan” and “Shame on you, Europe!”
No incidents were immediately reported, but “the situation remains very tense,” said a police spokesman, who added he was concerned about clashes between protesters and police — or Turkish nationalists — at dusk, according to AFP.
Germany hosts some 1 million Kurds and 3 million people of Turkish origin, and authorities have warned of tensions between the two communities.
Altercations have erupted between members of the two groups since Turkey launched its “Operation Olive Branch,” with several Turkish mosques in Germany vandalized.
“Turkey has launched a war of aggression that violates international law,” Kurdish community co-leader Mehmet Tanrıverdi told regional newspaper Heilbronner Stimme on Saturday.