Pro democracy marches take place in Germany

Demonstrators to attend several rallies, both in support of and against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in German city of Cologne.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend a rally on July 31, 2016 in Cologne, Germany.

Tens of thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gather for demonstrations in the German city of Cologne on Sunday, following the failed coup attempt on July 15.

Up to 30,000 people are expected to attend the rally organised by the Union of European-Turkish Democrats (UETD) according to police.

The North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Cologne is located, is home to about one third of Germany's three-million strong Turkish community.

At the same time, several counter-demonstrations, including one by the far-right activists, are due to take place, sparking fears of clashes. 

Ahead of Sunday's demonstrations, security services in Germany sought to head-off any potential violence between supporters and counter demonstrators.

“We assume the atmosphere will be emotionally charged,” police chief Juergen Mathies told Die Welt newspaper. “We are prepared for particular forms of violence.”

Demonstrators wave flags in Cologne, Germany July 31, 2016. (AFP)

Meanwhile, Germany's highest court late Saturday upheld a ruling to ban Erdoğan from addressing supporters through a live video call during the event. 

While police said the measure was taken for "security reasons,” Turkey's presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın called the move “unacceptable” saying “authorities who remained silent to demonstrations of terror organisations are trying to block a democratic anti-coup demonstration. Security precautions should not be taken against those who organise a democracy meeting, but against terror supporters and anti-democratic provocateurs."

Zafer Sirakaya, head of the Union of European Turkish Democrats that organised the rally, criticised the court ruling as politically motivated.

"There is no acceptability to this ruling from a legal perspective. It is extremely clear this is a political decision," Sirakaya told Anadolu Agency.

He added the union would nevertheless comply with the decision and plan accordingly.

Some 2,700 officers will be deployed to keep the peace, including several Turkish speakers.

TRTWorld and agencies