Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to visit the UK over the weekend when he will be honoured with a meeting with her Majesty the Queen.
He is expected to arrive for a three-day stay this Sunday, the Financial Times reports, and the trip comes during Turkey’s domestic election campaign in which Erdoğan is attempting to extend his 15-year rule by a further five years.
Downing Street said the trip would be a chance for Britain and Turkey to demonstrate their close relationship, but critics insist he must be challenged on his crackdown on journalists and academics, “ethnic cleansing” of Kurds, and other alleged human rights abuses.
Groups including the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign and Kurdistan Students Union have already begun organising a demonstration against the visit, with about 600 people registered as “interested” or “attending” on Facebook on Thursday morning.
In contrast, around a day after U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced his trip to the UK, around 100,000 people had said they could attend a demonstration in London and the London Mayor Sadiq Khan had spoken out.
Mr. Khan has so far remained silent on Erdoğan’s visiting his city.
France’s Macron Suggests European Union Partnership with Turkey https://t.co/BK7w8LwCFF
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 6, 2018
Protest organisers write: “Turkish dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is visiting London, Tuesday 15th May, ahead of the Turkish elections
“Seeking respectability, Erdoğan, who, as head of state, is allegedly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Kurdish civilians and should face arrest but failing that, should face the BIGGEST wall of protest!”
Prime Minister Theresa May met President Erdoğan in Turkey in January last year, when they agreed a £100 million defence deal to help develop and build high tech fighter jets for the Turkish military.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The visit is an opportunity for the UK and Turkey to demonstrate our close bilateral relationship and to have important discussions about issues of shared interest.”