Europe

Thousands march in Germany in support of Turkey's President Erdogan

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rally at a gathering on July 31, 2016 in Cologne, Germany Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are an estimated three million people of Turkish origin in Germany

Tens of thousands of people in Germany have turned out in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a rally that raised diplomatic tensions.

Mr Erdogan had planned to address the rally in the city of Cologne, held to denounce an attempted coup two weeks ago, by video link.

But on Saturday, Germany's Constitutional Court banned the speech from being broadcast.

German media said at least 35,000 people turned out.

An estimated three million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, the majority of whom voted for Mr Erdogan's AKP party in the last Turkish election, according to the Turkish Communities in Germany organisation.

"We are here because our compatriots in Germany advocate democracy and are against the attempted military coup," Turkey's German-born Sport and Youth Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic said in Cologne.

A message by Mr Erdogan, thanking the demonstrators for their support, was read out.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Turkey said Germany owed it "a satisfactory explanation" for not allowing Mr Erdogan to speak
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police broke up one demonstration by a far-right group

"It is said so often that this is the pro-Erdogan rally but it is not, it is an anti-coup demonstration," said one woman, Kevser Demir. "And I think that it is a duty of humanity to stay against such a coup."

Close to 2,700 police officers were deployed in Cologne. A far-right rally was held at the same time, but participants were kept far away from the Turkish demonstrators.

A handful of counter-protesters were also in attendance. One, Gulistan Gul, said it was crucial to speak out against Mr Erdogan.

"He is trying to have sole power over the people there," he said. "And we are against that dictatorship. The Kurds are oppressed, Armenians are oppressed, other minorities and religions are oppressed."

German media said the court ruling was made because of concerns about public order.

Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik had condemned the decision in a series of tweets.

And Mr Erdogan's spokesman said Germany owed the president "a satisfactory explanation".

Mr Erdogan says US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen was behind the coup.

Turkey's government has sacked another 1,389 soldiers accused of being linked to the coup attempt on 15 July, in which rebels tried to oust President Erdogan.

This raises the number of military dismissals above 3,000 since the failed coup.