By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to a criminal inquiry into a German comic who poked fun at the Turkish President.
It is a move that will trouble many people across the world who believe in free speech.
The comedian Jan Böhmermann read out a rude poem about the President Erdogan on German TV. However, under a little used section of Germany’s criminal code, they have to pursue a case against the comedian for insulting a foreign leader.
The decision has caused uproar, including in her own Government, she said: “There were different opinions between the coalition partners – the conservatives and the SPD (Social Democrats).”
The comedian could in theory get jail time for reading out the poem. Merkel said: “The outcome is that the German government will give the authorisation in the current case.”
Interestingly she also added that Germany would scrap this rarely enforced law, in reaction to this situation.
The poem is crude and he calls the Turkish PM a “goat fucker” and says Erdogan “watches child porn while kicking Kurds.” Offensive yes, but criminal, make your own mind up.
Mrs Merkel said that the courts would have the final say on the matter. There are concerns that being prosecuted over a piece of satire is an attack on free speech.
Merkel remarked that the poem was “deliberately offensive,” however critics have said that she hasn’t stood up for the comedian’s right to free speech because Turkey are assisting in the European wide migrant crisis.
The poem was broadcast by ZDF television two weeks ago. The channel decided not to broadcast his weekly programme this week due to the row.
Paragraph 103 of Germany’s penal code, on defamation of organs and representatives of foreign states, has the following to say:
- Whosoever insults a foreign head of state, or, with respect to his position, a member of a foreign government who is in Germany in his official capacity, or a head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in the Federal territory shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine, in case of a slanderous insult to imprisonment from three months to five years.