‘Unwelcome’ Erdoğan statue removed from German art festival

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Fireworkers lift a four-metre tall golden statue featuring Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to remove it on late August 28, 2018 in the western German town of Wiesbaden, where it had been placed on August 26 as part of Wiesbaden's Biennale art festival. (AFP PHOTO)

A four-meter-high statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that was erected in Wiesbaden on Monday much to the surprise and confusion of residents has been removed by the fire brigade of the southwestern German city, Deutsche Welle reported on Wednesday.

A golden effigy of Erdoğan evoking the famous statue of Saddam Hussein was erected in the city’s Platz der Deutschen Einheit as part of the Wiesbaden Biennale for Contemporary Art, which was themed “Bad News.”

Organizers said they had hoped it would spark discussions linked to this year’s theme, but instead, it sparked conflict between Erdoğan’s supporters and critics.

The statue was quickly covered in expletive-laden graffiti, and it was defaced with the words “Turkish Hitler.”

According to the report, local authorities said that as its security could no longer be guaranteed, the statue would be taken down.

It was erected without the knowledge of city officials, a Wiesbaden spokesperson told German news agency dpa on Tuesday.

The local Wiesbadener Kurier newspaper reported that city authorities had authorized the statue but didn’t know Erdoğan would be the person depicted.

City councillor Oliver Franz told Wiesbadener Kurier that angry words had escalated into physical scuffles and that “bladed weapons were spotted.”

The Turkish president will pay a state visit to Germany Sept. 28-29. According to Deutsche Welle, many Germans are opposed to his visit due to his authoritarian tendencies and attempts to sway political support among Germany’s large Turkish minority.

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