COLOGNE, Germany – Thousands of people gathered in the German city of Cologne on Sunday to denounce the failed July 15 coup in Turkey and show support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with a heavy police presence in place.
The demonstration comes amid tensions following the coup attempt in Turkey and concern in Germany over the scale of the Turkish government's subsequent crackdown.
Germany is home to roughly 3 million people with Turkish roots and as Sunday's rally got underway, organizers played the Turkish and German national anthems and held a minute of silence for people killed in the attempted coup. The slogan of the demonstration was "Yes to democracy. No to the coup."
Police put some 2,700 officers in place to prevent any trouble. Four much smaller counter-protests were taking place elsewhere in the city, including one by a far-right German group that was kept well away from the Turkish rally.
Police said shortly before it began that some 10,000 people had arrived at the riverside site, across the Rhine from downtown Cologne. Many waved Turkish flags.
A regional court imposed the condition that no messages from speakers elsewhere — such as politicians in Turkey — could be shown on a video screen. Germany's highest court rejected a complaint against that ban on Saturday night.
Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said that prevented the showing of a message from the president and called for a "satisifactory explanation" from German officials.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said ahead of the demonstrations that there is "no place in Germany" for any side to "bring domestic political tensions from Turkey to us in Germany and intimidate people with other political convictions."