The German city of Wiesbaden has removed a 4m (13ft) golden statue of Turkey’s president after it was defaced with the words “Turkish Hitler”.

City councillor Oliver Franz told the Wiesbadener Kurier newspaper that angry words had escalated into physical scuffles, and “bladed weapons were spotted”.

“In agreement with state police, Mayor Sven Gerich decided to have the statue removed as security could no longer be guaranteed,” the city’s government tweeted.

The insult came after German authorities cancelled rallies he had hoped would woo ethnic Turkish voters in Germany, ahead of a key referendum.

“In a democracy, we have to put up with all kinds of opinions,” observed Wiesbaden city theatre chief Eric Laufenberg.