Germany's foreign and justice ministers warned Tuesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was using "propaganda" to divide their country's three-million-strong ethnic Turkish community.

In a tough-worded commentary published amid a raging bilateral row, they warned that Germany's democratic culture was at threat from the "radicalisation" of Erdogan's politics, spreading through state-backed mosques and groups.

"We must be careful Muslim communities in Germany do not fall under the sway of President Erdogan," Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Justice Minister Heiko Maas wrote.

"The slow dissolution of the separation of religion and state taking place in Turkey is poison for democracy," they said.

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