The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has lashed out at Germany for blocking several rallies on its soil in the run-up to a referendum in Turkey in April, likening its stance to Nazi practices.
“Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past,” Erdogan said of Germany at a women’s rally in Istanbul ahead of the referendum on changes to the constitution that would boost his powers as president.
“I thought it’s been a long time since Germany left [Nazi practices]. We are mistaken,” he added.
Last week federal authorities in two German states withdrew permission for political rallies targeted at Turkish residents in Germany amid growing public outrage over Ankara’s arrest of a Turkish-German journalist.
Authorities in Cologne, in North-Rhine Westphalia, and Gaggenau, in Baden-Württemberg. cited security concerns for the rallies’ cancellation. An appearance at a Cologne hotel by Turkey’s minister for the economy, Nihat Zeybekci, was scheduled to go ahead with increased police security.
Angela Merkel had rejected calls for a general ban on Erdoğan or his minister campaigning in Germany last week, with her spokesperson arguing that it was important to respect freedom of speech.
The cancellations have infuriated the Turkish government, which accused Berlin of working against the “yes” campaign in the referendum and summoned the German ambassador to the foreign ministry in protest.
“You will lecture us about democracy and then you will not let this country’s ministers speak there,” said an angry Erdoğan, adding that Germany was not “respecting opinion and thought”.
Some German politicians criticised Erdoğan‘s Nazi comparison. The Green MP Volker Beck, who was arrested at a gay pride event in Istanbul in June 2016, tweeted: “Now he [Erdoğan] has lost it.”
Merkel called Binali Yıldırım, Turkey’s prime minister, on Saturday to try to defuse the row, and the two countries’ foreign ministers are due to meet in Germany on Wednesday.
In an op-ed in Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, described the war of words as a “difficult stress test” and warned that “the basis for friendship between our two countries must not be allowed to be destroyed”.
Relations between Turkey and Germany lurched into crisis after the arrest last week of Deniz Yücel, a correspondent for Die Welt, pending a trial on charges of propaganda and incitement to hatred. Erdoğan claimed the journalist was a German spy and a representative of the outlawed Kurdish rebel group PKK.
Erdoğan accused Berlin of harbouring him for a month at the German consulate in Istanbul before agreeing to hand him over to authorities. “They need to be put on trial for aiding and abetting terrorism,” Erdoğan said during a speech on Friday.
And because bellends usually come in pairs....
Bozdağ urged Germany, which is home to a Turkish diaspora of an estimated 1.4 million people, to take a look at its own history, suggesting he was facing discriminated on racial grounds. “Let them look back at their history,” Bozdağ said in a speech. “We see the old illnesses flaring up.”
He was speaking just hours after the town hall in Gaggenau where his rally would have taken place was evacuated over a bomb threat.
Bozdağ said Germany had become a hiding ground for everyone opposed to Erdoğan’s regime. “Germany today has become a shelter for all those who commit crimes against Turkey, the PKK, Feto, DHKP-C members. Those who carried out the coup and everyone who commits crimes against Turkey have fled there,” he said.
Turkish politicians hope to rally the support of Turks in Germanybefore the referendum next month to increase Erdoğan’s power. The proposals include allowing the president to abolish the post of prime minister, appoint more judges and extend his time in office.
The rejections have prompted Ankara to accuse the German government of trying to hinder Erdoğan’s attempts at constitutional reform. The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşogğlu, accused the government of Angela Merkel of deliberately trying to “prevent Turkey from becoming strong”.
Çavuşoğlu summoned Germany’s ambassador in Ankara, Martin Erdmann, to the ministry on Thursday, demanding an explanation for the cancellation of Bozdağ’s speech.
On Sunday, the city of Cologne rejected a request by the Turkish economy minister, Nihat Zeybekci, to give a speech and it emerged on Friday that another planned appearance by the minister in the town of Frechen had been cancelled by local authorities. There have been widespread reports that Erdoğan, who has campaigned in Germany before, was also planning a political rally in the country.
In Gaggenau, authorities cancelled Bozdağ’s rally on security grounds on Thursday. Authorities cited a lack of space in the car park. Police then received an anonymous phone call which they said was made by a caller warning of a bomb threat in revenge for the cancellation.
No evidence of an actual bomb had been uncovered by Friday afternoon. Authorities said they believed the threat was a hoax but one they had treated seriously.
Gökay Sofuoğlu, chair of the Turkish community in Germany, warned against an escalation of the tensions. He told the radio broadcaster RBB that the Turkish government was exploiting the rejections, particularly that of Bozdağ, for its own means. “It wants to increase its vote among the Turks living in Germany, by presenting Germany as both the new and old bogeyman,” Sofuoğlu said.
Poor Turks, ruled by such people.