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Turkish president is witness at football star Mesut Özil's wedding

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Turkish president is witness at football star Mesut Özil's wedding
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Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
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Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as a witness for Arsenal footballer Mesut Özil's wedding to former Miss Turkey Amine Gülşe in Istanbul.

Özil has been a midfielder for the Premier League club since his transfer from Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2013.

This is not the first time the footballer has posed with Turkey's president.

Özil was born in Germany but is of Turkish ancestry. The largest ethnic minority group in Germany is Turkish, according to the CIA Factbook.

The German football star quit international football last year after facing criticism and sparking controversy in Germany for posing with the Turkish president in May 2018 before the World Cup in Russia.

The footballer was publicly reprimanded by the German Football Association (DFB) for the photo.

"The DFB, of course, respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr Erdogan does not sufficiently respect," then German football federation president Reinhard Grindel said in a statement in May 2018.

"Therefore, it is not a good thing that our internationals have let themselves be exploited for his election campaign stunt. It certainly hasn’t helped the DFB’s integration efforts."

After the World Cup, Özil said Grindel had mistreated him over the controversy.

"I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," Özil wrote in a statement posted on Twitter in July 2018. He said people criticised and abused him because of his family ancestry.

Erdogan became Turkey's president in 2014 but critics say he has a bad human rights record. The country is the world leader for jailing journalists and human rights lawyers have been put on trial on terrorism charges, say Human Rights Watch.

His appearance at the wedding comes ahead of an election re-run in Istanbul. It was called after Erdogan's party lost the mayorship of Turkey's biggest city in a shock win for the opposition in April. The decision to hold the poll again sparked international criticism.

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