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Hundreds protest Erdogan visit in France

  • People wave flags on June 21, 2014 in Lyon, central eastern France, during a demonstration against the visit in France by the Turkish Prime Minister. (AFP PHOTO/JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK)

LYON, France: Hundreds protested against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the French city of Lyon Saturday as he visited Europe ahead of an expected bid for the presidency.

Organizers said 1,000 people took part in the protest organized by pro-democracy and minority groups near a local government office, where Erdogan met regional officials. Police said there were about 500 protesters.

"His government is authoritarian. It scorns democracy by violently repressing peaceful demonstrations and minorities. It is not normal that he comes to the country of human rights," said Mehmet Demirbas, the head of a local cultural center for the Alevi community in Lyon.

The community, which follows a moderate form of Islam and accounts for 10-15 million of Turkey's 76 million citizens, has frequently clashed with Erdogan's government.

Erdogan is touring European countries with large Turkish populations ahead of a widely expected run for the presidency in August. As many as 10,000 people demonstrated in Vienna when he visited Austria earlier this week.

The prime minister has been accused of autocratic tendencies at home in Turkey, but is still expected to win the presidency.

Erdogan was to later meet members of Lyon's Turkish community.

 
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