Erdoğan requests approval to speak at mosque opening in Germany

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has requested approval from German authorities to address Turkish expatriates on the occasion of a mosque opening in Cologne during a planned state visit to Germany at the end of September, the Hürriyet newspaper reported on Friday.

The details of Erdoğan’s schedule as to the venue and time of the event will be finalized based on the awaited response from the German government.

In his speech Erdoğan is expected to extend his thanks to the Turkish community for the votes he received from abroad in the general and presidential elections of June 24.

The last time Erdoğan met with Turkish expatriates in Germany was in May 2015 when he attended a youth meeting held at the DM Arena in Karlsruhe.

His request to address Turks via teleconference during a pro-democracy meeting following a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, however, was denied by the German government for security reasons.

The Diken news website pointed out that the Berlin police have proposed extraordinary security measures be implemented in the city during Erdoğan’s visit as they categorize it as the riskiest since US President George W. Bush’s visit to the German capital in 2002.

A survey published by the German Bild newspaper on Tuesday revealed that a large majority of Germans were opposed to the idea of Erdoğan delivering a speech during his visit.

An earlier poll conducted on the heels of the announcement of the visit by the Die Welt newspaper had suggested that 69 percent of Germans did not even approve of the visit itself.

The fact that the mosque in question is envisaged to operate under the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) brings up another problematic issue in Turkey’s relations with Germany since DİTİB was embroiled in an espionage scandal in which some imams working at its mosques allegedly reported on members of the Gülen movement to Turkey’s consulates in Germany.

The Gülen movement was immediately blamed by the Turkish government for the coup attempt of July 2016, an accusation strongly denied by the movement and not supported by European governments.

DİTİB also drew heavy criticism for an event held on the occasion of the anniversary of the Battle of the Dardanelles at one of its mosques in Herford in North Rhine-Westphalia in which little children put on a show dressed as soldiers and carrying toy guns.

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