Rome bans protests as Turkish President Erdogan visits Pope Francis

Rome bans protests as Turkish President Erdogan visits Pope Francis

Pope Francis's meeting has sparked controversy

Monday, February 5, 2018

Protests were banned in the centre of Rome today (February 5) as the President of Turkey met with Pope Francis.

The official 24-hour clampdown on protests has been in place since Sunday night (February 4) and will stay in place until this evening, according to The Local.

The authorities anticipated protests over Turkey's oppression of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which it views as a terror group.

The YPG is currently fighting on the west border of the country but both the Turkish army and the Syrian rebel forces are attempting to force the unit out.

Despite the ban on protests, there was a planned sit-in of around 200 people near the Vatican, organised by an Italian Kurdish association. It claimed, “a new crime against humanity is under way.”

Italian news website Ansa also reported two arrests and claimed one man had been injured after protestors resisted police attempts to remove them from the sit-in and attempted to march towards St Peter's Square.

Meanwhile, the Pope and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have had both a public and private meeting. Following the private meeting the Pope gifted the President a bronze medallion, which shows an angel over the northern and southern hemispheres while a dragon tries to attack, Radio Free Europe said.

It is thought the leaders have discussed the issue of Syria, as well as Jerusalem, terrorism, refugees, xenophobia and Islamophobia.

Erdogan is also set to meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Thousands of police are on duty while President Erdogan visits.