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German City Removes Erdogan Statue After Protests

German firemen remove a 4-meter-tall golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the western German town of Wiesbaden on August 28.

A golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that was installed at an art festival in the German city of Wiesbaden has been taken down after authorities said it was becoming a security risk.

Organizers of the festival, whose theme is "Bad News," had erected the 4-meter statue of Erdogan, with one arm outstretched, on a plinth in the central square of Wiesbaden on August 27.

Since then, authorities said it had become a magnet for pro- and anti-Erdogan speeches and provoked conflict.

The statue, evoking that of Saddam Hussein toppled in 2003 by American forces in Baghdad,was defaced with graffiti, including the slogan "Turkish Hitler," and a few hundred people staged a protest against it.

Police said they could no longer guarantee people's safety, and firemen used a large crane to take away the statue in the early hours of August 29, while it was still dark outside.

Germany has a 3-million-strong population with Turkish roots.

Erdogan, who in June won re-election with expanded powers, is due to make a state visit to Berlin on September 28-29 as part of efforts to improve relations strained by years of disagreement on a range of issues.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa