A statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan erected in an art festival in Wiesbaden, Germany was removed after intense protests. The words “Turkish Hitler” were painted on the statue.
The statue was 4 meters tall, golden yellow, with its index finger pointed up in a “resolute” manner. It was erected in the city center last week as part of the Biennale, an arts festival in Wiesbaden. Festival organizers argued that they wanted to encourage public debate with the statue, but the plan backfired. There were intense protests, and opposition to the statue increased as the words “Turkish Hitler” were painted on it. On Tuesday evening, disputes by the statue grew and tensions rose between pro-Erdoğan groups and anti-fascists.
Local security official Oliver Franz spoke to the newspaper Wiesbadener Kurier and said there was also a skirmish between the two sides.
The city council had to remove the statue afterwards. They issued a statement on Twitter and said, “According to an arrangement with the police, the city council has decided to remove the statue because we can’t guarantee safety around it.”
Wiesbaden theater director Uwe Eric Laufenberg who had placed the statue there spoke to the DPA news agency and said the project was an initiative as part of freedom of expression and said they put the statue up “to discuss Erdoğan”. Laufenberg said, “All ideas should be tolerated in a democracy,” but failed to explain how a person protested as “Hitler” and a “dictator” could be included in freedom of expression.
The far-right Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) local spokesperson Emil Sanze said the organizers had “done a ridiculous thing in providing a platform for a despot who spends his time putting down the German people”.