BERLIN - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a trip to Germany on Saturday after the death of 12 Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan, but thousands of protesters went ahead with a rally against a decision to award him a tolerance prize.
Erdogan had been due to receive the Steiger Award in the western German town of Bochum but his office said he had called off his trip because of the soldiers' deaths in a NATO helicopter crash near Kabul on Friday.
Despite the cancellation, an estimated 22,000 people from local Alevi, Kurdish and Armenian groups who oppose the policies of Erdogan's AK party joined a pre-planned protest rally in Bochum in the industrial Ruhr region.
"Erdogan - wolf in sheep's clothing," read one banner. "Erdogan, you are and remain an anti-democrat," read another.