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German city removes controversial Erdogan statue

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By Alice Cuddy  with Reuters
German city removes controversial Erdogan statue

Authorities in the western German city of Wiesbaden have removed a golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that sparked confusion and controversy when it was erected as part of a local art festival.

The four-metre-tall statue depicted Erdogan raising his right arm and pointing, evoking the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by American forces in Iraq.

It was erected on Monday evening for the Wiesbaden Biennale art festival, which is being held under the theme "bad news".

Wiesbaden authorities confirmed on Twitter late on Tuesday that the statue had been removed, saying it had become a security issue.

Residents were initially confused as to why a statue of the Turkish president was on display in the city, while local authorities said they had given permission for the monument to be erected without knowing who it would portray.

The statue was heavily defaced with graffiti during the day it was on display, and critics argued that it could damage relations between Turks and Germans in the city.

Organisers said the statue was intended to provoke debate.

"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," festival director Uwe Eric Laufenberg told Reuters.

Relations between Germany and Turkey have soured since Berlin condemned Ankara's arrests of some 50,000 people, and the suspension or firing of 150,000 others in the wake of a failed coup attempt against Erdogan in 2016.

Video editor • Sallyann Nicholls