The German town of Gaggenau received a bomb threat forcing police to cordon off the area around the town hall after a pro-Turkish rally was cancelled.
Police and the town’s administration stated they were alerted to a bomb threat at 7:30 am Friday morning. They reportedly received a telephone call from an unknown person who said there was a bomb in the town hall.
The caller said the bomb was planted because a pro-Turkish rally that was to feature Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as a guest speaker was cancelled, Tagesschau reports.
The area in and around the town hall was cordoned off for several hours as police searched for explosives. When none were found, police gave an all-clear saying, “after extensive investigations, nothing could be found in the building” and the town hall was reopened at 11:35 am.
According to the authorities in Gaggenau, the event was cancelled not due to the nature of the event but due to logistics. The town of 30,000 people, they claimed, could not handle such a large amount of people who were expected to attend the widely publicised event and authorities were forced to cancel.
“The Bad Rotenfels hall, parking lots, and road access are insufficient to meet that demand,” they told media.
Head of the citizens’ service Dieter Spannagel said the reason for the bomb threat was clear. “The caller cited the cancellation of the event with the Turkish justice minister as a reason,” Spannagel said.
The Turkish justice minister also made a statement on the cancellation penning a letter saying: “It is a scandalous decision that violates diplomatic courtesy.” He then cancelled his entire visit to Germany where he was expected to meet with his German equivalent Justice Minister Heiko Maas.
German-Turkish relations have been strained in recent weeks due to the announcement of a referendum by Ankara that would ask the Turkish people if they wanted to abolish the position of prime minister for the first time in Turkish history.
Gaggenau is not the only city to have cancelled pro-Erdoğan events. The Union of European Turkish Democrats, who arranged the Gaggenau rally, also had their event in Cologne cancelled where Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci was expected to speak. “The event can and will not happen there,” a Cologne spokesman said.
Turkey has accused Germany of working to prevent Turkish leaders from campaigning in the country with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claiming the “deep state” was responsible.
“They don’t want Turkish leaders to campaign because they are working for ‘no’ votes,” he said. “They want to prevent (the creation) of a strong Turkey.”
Critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan say the referendum is a means for him to further consolidate power.
Germany has one of the largest Turkish diasporas in Europe as an estimated 1.5 million Turkish citizens living in the country.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org