A famous German comedian could be jailed for insulting the Turkish president.
Jan Boehmermann, a host on Germany’s major TV channel, the ZDF public broadcaster, could spend three to five years in jail for insulting “official bodies and representatives of foreign states” — which is considered a criminal offense in Germany.
During his weekly show Neo Magazin Royal, the German presenter read a highly offensive self-written poem in which he claimed the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repressed minorities, kicked Kurds, watched child pornography and engaged in bestiality.
The broadcast came in wake of recent controversy involving a sardonic song “Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan” aired on March 17 that targeted the Turkish president for his excess expenditure and his crackdowns on freedom of speech.
After the broadcast, at least 20 viewers launched complaints against him. Angela Merkel denounced the poem as “deliberately offensive” and discussed the issue with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in an effort to avoid a diplomatic incidence.
Meanwhile, the German Ministry of Justice was reportedly asked by the prosecution “to determine if Turkey had launched a criminal probe in the name of its head of state.” So far, Turkey has not launched any formal proceedings regarding the poem.
Although the comic’s main motivation might have been to bring awareness to the human rights violations committed under Erdogan’s rule, the NSFW poem came out as decidedly slanderous, rather than satirical. There is always a limit to sarcasm and irony and in this case, it was clearly exceeded.
Additionally, the fact that the EU has just recently made a 3 billion euro treaty with Turkey involving refugee settlements makes the broadcast very untimely and awkward for Germany.