SHAFAQNA– Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan opened one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne during his controversial visit to Germany.
As Erdogan opens the Cologne Central Mosque, Some 10,000 Erdogan critics take to the streets in Cologne to protest against Turkey’s record on human rights and press freedom to its treatment of minority Kurds.
Protesters have banners reading: “Erdogan not welcome”.
Police cordoned off a large area around the mosque for safety reasons to keep both supporters and protesters away from the opening ceremony.
The Cologne Central Mosque, built by Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) after eight years of construction work, has a capacity of 1,200 people, a shopping center, an exhibition and a seminar hall, a 600-people capacity conference hall, a library, working offices and a car park on the ground floor, AA reported.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the mosque in Cologne symbolizes peace and thanked the German government for pressing ahead with its construction despite protests, BBC reported.
Germany the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France with nearly 4.7 million Muslims
Germany, a country of over 81 million people is home to a 3 million-strong Turkish diaspora.
The aim of Erdogan controversial three-day state visit was to repair ties with Berlin after two years of tensions.
Erdogan said “we need to put aside our differences and focus on our common interests”
Ties between the two countries soured after Berlin criticised Ankara’s crackdown on opponents following a failed 2016 coup, which saw tens of thousands arrested.
The German Chancellor said that “deep differences” remained on civil rights and other issues, while Erdogan blamed Germany of harbouring terrorists, Aljazeera reported.
During his stay in Berlin, Mr Erdogan met Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks over the Syrian conflict.
But he used the occasion to urge Mrs Merkel to extradite critics of his government ,Gulenists, that he sees as “terrorists”.
Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild emblazoned its front page on Saturday with the words “Hate speech against Germany”.
The chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Roettgen, told the Funke newspaper group that “the timing of this visit was wrong – it was far too early”.
https://en.shafaqna.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/18820870_303.jpg394700asadianhttps://en.shafaqna.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/new-logo-s-2.pngasadian2018-10-05 06:57:072018-10-05 06:57:07Erdogan opened Germany's largest mosque in Cologne