Turkey confirms asking Germany to prosecute comedian for insulting Erdoğan

Turkey confirms asking Germany to prosecute comedian for insulting Erdoğan

Turkey confirms asking Germany to prosecute comedian for insulting Erdoğan

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A senior Turkish official has confirmed that Ankara had officially requested Germany criminally prosecute a comedian for allegedly insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a poem.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Germany Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu on April 10 sent a diplomatic note to the German Foreign Office requesting Germany criminally prosecute comedian Jan Böhmermann for reading a poem that called President Erdoğan a zoophile, Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA) reported, confirming a report carried by Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.

The confirmation and the explanation concerning the reports, however, didn’t come from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, but came from the Turkish president’s office. 

“Friends, as you know, our Foreign Ministry took required initiatives on that issue in the presence of German authorities, the note was delivered and the German authorities have launched an investigation within the framework of their rules of law. Mainz Chief Prosecutor’s Office started a legal process about this. From now on, it is of course a process to be conducted by the German authorities and to proceed within the framework of the German legal system,” Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said at a press conference on April 11, in response to questions from reporters.

“But we want to underline this: Attacks which contain such insults and are voiced with indecent expressions to target the president of a country and a people has no relation with either freedom of expression or freedom of press. This is an insult and a crime in every place of the world. As we said, the German authorities are following the related process and we will of course follow it closely too,” Kalın said.

In early April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the video of the comedian reading a poem about Erdoğan on Germany’s state broadcaster ZDF and called the text “intentionally hurtful,” during a phone call with Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. 

“Both prime ministers agreed that the poem was intentionally insulting,” German government’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said while providing information on the April 3 discussion between Merkel and Davutoğlu. 

According to Seibert, Merkel said the poem was “unacceptable” and stressed that the broadcaster removed the content after apologizing on April 1 for “crossing the line into slander.”

Merkel had also underlined the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Germany, while recognizing certain limitations on these principles. 

Seibert also evaded the question over which prime minister brought up the issue of the poem during the phone call, which mainly focused on the migrant deal between Turkey and the European Union. 

The aforementioned poem was read by German satirist Jan Böhmermann on his late night show, “Neo Magazin Royale,” on March 31, just days after a diplomatic crisis ensued between Ankara and Berlin over a much tamer video ridiculing Erdoğan that was aired on German regional public broadcaster NDR. 

German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier had slammed Turkey after the latter summoned Germany’s ambassador to Ankara over the video, saying Turkey should “share common European values” as a partner nation of the EU.