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DIPLOMACY

Row at German art fair over ‘Erdogan with banana’ painting

A German artist complained Friday after his gallery took down a painting that depicts Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a banana in his buttocks.

Row at German art fair over 'Erdogan with banana' painting
Photo: DPA

The provocative painting entitled “Turkish dictator” by Thomas Baumgärtel has sparked noisy complaints and protests at the art Karlsruhe fair.

The fair organisers tweeted that, amid the row, not they but the gallery owner had “decided to take down the caricature”.

Gallerist Michael Oess said he took the decision “to avoid trouble.”

“I have a certain responsibility toward other visitors,” he told national news agency DPA.

The artist wrote on Twitter that he had severed ties with his gallery after it had taken the decision “without consulting me”.

Baumgärtel is a street art pioneer also known as the Banana Sprayer whose trademark motif is an Andy Warhol-style banana.

The uproar started when a Turkish journalist Thursday filmed the picture with a smartphone while reporting online, said Oess.

The Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported on the painting, saying that to Turks it presented a “racist and vulgar attack” on their president.

Oess said the painting, part of the “Despots series — Trump, Kim and Erdogan”, had sold for 5,900 euros.

Germany is home to a three-million-strong ethnic Turkish community.

Erdogan has in the past sued TV comic Jan Böhmermann over a satirical poem, sparking a diplomatic row.

READ ALSO: Hamburg court bans large parts of poem insulting Erdogan

DIPLOMACY

Berlin police investigate ‘Havana syndrome’ sicknesses at US embassy

Police in Berlin have opened an investigation into unexplained sicknesses that have been affecting staff at the US embassy in the German capital.

The US embassy in Berlin.
The US embassy in Berlin. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

The investigation, which Berlin’s city authorities confirmed to Der Spiegel last week, comes after at least two members of staff at the embassy reported symptoms that correspond to the so-called Havana syndrome, an unexplained sickness that has been affecting US diplomats and spies across the globe since 2016.

The US embassy has reportedly handed over evidence to Berlin’s state detective agency.

The first cases were reported in Havana, the Cuban capital, where dozens of diplomats reported suffering nausea and headaches. There have since been cases reported in Vienna, Moscow and Singapore.

US authorities suspect that the condition is caused by a sophisticated attack using concentrated microwaves.

The fact that many of the diplomats and CIA agents affected were working on Russian affairs has led them to believe that Moscow is somehow involved – a charge that the Kremlin denies.

As far as this so-called ‘syndrome’ is concerned, US President Joe Biden has vowed to find out “the cause and who is responsible.”

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