German Authorities Removed a Golden Statue of Turkish President Erdoğan from the Wiesbaden Biennale
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a Turkish politician who is the head of state and head of government of the Republic of Turkey President of Turkey since 2014. He previously served as Prime Minister and He founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in leading it to general election victories in 2002, 2007 and 2011before standing down upon his election as President in 2014. Coming from an Islamist political background and as a self-described conservative democrat, he has promoted socially conservative and liberal economic policies in his administration. Under his administration, Turkey has experienced democratic backsliding.
Organizers of an arts festival whose theme this year is "Bad News" had installed the four-meter statue of Mr Erdogan, with one arm outstretched, on a plinth in the central Square of German Unity in the western town of Wiesbaden on Monday. But the statue got daubed with graffiti, including the slogan "Turkish Hitler", German media reported, and a few hundred residents had protested against it.
German firefighters removed the golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on security grounds after it provoked an angry response from local people.
But the statue depicting Erdogan with his right arm raised, evoking the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by US forces in Iraq. Organizers for the exhibition explained that the theme of the biennale is “Bad News,” and that the triumphant rendering of the leader was intended to start a discussion in Germany, where two-thirds of votes cast by resident Turks this year went to the totalitarian leader, despite widespread opposition to his crackdown—in which the government arrested 50,000 citizens and fired 150,000—following a failed coup in 2016, "It is certainly appropriate to conceive of Erdogan as a controversial figure, and one that we are allowed to discuss freely here in this country," Mr Laufenberg said when the statue was erected on Monday.
"We can have a discussion about this statue and this man."
While some residents liked the statue, others objected.
"This is a man who has hundreds of people on his conscience … because he has lied and bought his way to power. He's a dictator," said resident Werner Starotsta.
Police said they could no longer guarantee people's safety so firefighters used a large crane to take away the statue under the cover of darkness in the early hours of Wednesday.
Sven Gerich, the mayor of Wiesbaden, a German city of about 275,000 people just west of Frankfurt, said he and city authorities valued freedom of art and sought to protect it, but that the statue had crossed a line.
"An art installation that needs to be protected by a massive police presence in order to ensure the public peace was not proportional," he said in a statement announcing that the statue, that was to have remained in place until the festival closed on Sunday, would not be reinstalled.