Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Kurdish supporters in Frankfurt protest against Erdogan

Kurdish supporters in Frankfurt protest against Erdogan

Germany and Turkey have been caught up in a fresh spat after a rally backing outlawed Kurdish fighters in Turkey was held in Frankfurt and a top German intelligence official made controversial comments on last summer's failed coup against the Turkish government.

Turkey says there is a possibility that Turkish ministers could plan another rally in Germany ahead of an April 16 referendum, a move that could further escalate tensions between Ankara and Berlin.

Many demonstrators carried symbols of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has battled the Turkish state for over three decades in a continuing insurgency.

After the PKK march, Germany's ambassador to Turkey was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the incident was strongly condemned, according to presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.

He said the demonstrators had used the upcoming Kurdish New Year festival of Newroz as a "pretext" for the rally as the new year falls on Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Gulen's group was running "a parallel state" within Turkey's government, taking orders from outside and following an alternative agenda. Turkish authorities have blamed the attempted coup that left 248 people dead on the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), whose leader is Gülen.

About 30,000 pro-Kurdish protesters gathered in the central city of Frankfurt on March 18 to protest against the referendum sought by Erdogan, which would give the president greater power.

"Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level, but so far it has not succeeded", Bruno Kahl was quoted as saying.

Tens of thousands of people were arrested and civil servants were sacked in the purges after the coup attempt.

Germany is home to over 3 million people of Turkish origin, with almost half of them eligible to vote in Turkey.

The foreign ministry on Saturday accused the German authorities of blatant hypocrisy for allowing the protest despite preventing Turkish ministers from campaigning there for a referendum "Yes" vote.

The European Union and United States consider the PKK a terrorist group and it is banned in Germany.

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