Germany: Cologne braces for protests as Erdogan opens mega mosque

Germany: Cologne braces for protests as Erdogan opens mega mosque, by Michelle Fitzpatrick.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to open one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne on Saturday as he wraps up a controversial visit to Germany, with police deploying in force amid planned protests.

The sheer size of the building, designed to resemble a flower bud opening, and its two towering minarets has disgruntled some locals, triggering occasional protests.

The Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (Ditib) that commissioned the glass and cement structure is itself not without controversy.

The group runs hundreds of mosques across Germany, and its imams are paid by the Turkish state.

Known for its close ties to Ankara, it has increasingly come under scrutiny with some of its members suspected of spying on Turkish dissidents living in Germany.