Erdoğan to open Cologne mosque during state visit

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will open a new mosque in the western German city of Cologne during his controversial state visit later month, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Erdogan will be received with military honors during his September 28 and 29 visit, as well as a state banquet hosted by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, it said. The Turkish leader is also set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks in Berlin.

Turkey’s strongman is also hoping to speak with members of the Turkish-German community in either Berlin or Cologne during his visit despite Germany’s decision to block him from holding campaign rallies in Germany last year in the run up to the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

The central mosque in Cologne - which is the largest mosque in Europe, save Turkey - was first used for Friday prayers a year ago, but it hasn't officially opened.

The structure is situated in the heart of Cologne's Ehrenfeld neighborhood, which is home to the city's Turkish community.

Erdoğan’s visit has received backlash in Germany from officials and members of the media including German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel who slammed Berlin's decision to go ahead with the state visit on Tuesday evening, calling it a  "betrayal."

German Die Welt newspaper correspondent Yücel for was imprisoned in Turkey for one year on terrorism-related charges.

Steinmeier would be "hosting a criminal at a state banquet," Yücel is quoted as saying.

Germany’s large Kurdish community has also called out Berlin for hosting hosting the Turkish president, maintaining that Erdoğan is shifting Turkey towards authoritarian rule.

Erdoğan’s visit is seen a step in thawing relations between Ankara and Berlin following increased tensions recent years, which flared following Turkey’s crackdown on dissent following the July 2016 coup attempt.
This block is broken or missing. You may be missing content or you might need to enable the original module.