Turkish voters living in Germany cast their ballots on the constitutional referendum at the Turkish consulate in Berlin, Germany, March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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As polling stations opened Monday in Germany, acrimony has been rising among the Turks here whose votes are crucial in the tight race over whether to expand the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Erdogan, who has been trying to woo the Turks in Germany with rallies and rhetoric, has accused German officials of acting like Nazis for blocking his supporters from holding rallies ahead of the referendum.But the referendum has also polarized the 3 million-strong Turkish community in Germany more than anything in its 60-year history, said Caner Aver, an expert from the Center for Turkey Studies in the western German city of Essen.For weeks, advocates and opponents of the referendum have campaigned determinedly across Germany, handing out fliers in front of mosques and trying to persuade fellow Turks in emotional debates at tearooms or kebab restaurants.His friend, Ercan Yasaroglu, who runs the Cafe Kotti where they were sitting, is critical of Erdogan's desire to merge the powers of the prime minister and the president. He said the tensions surrounding the Turkish referendum have not only poisoned the atmosphere within the Turkish community but also pitted Germans against Turks.
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