Germany has an obscure 19th century law on the books that makes it a crime for German citizens to insult foreign heads of state.
Most obscure laws remain on the books as obscure laws never enforced, or even prosecuted.
In this case, the Merkel administration launched a criminal investigation of Jan Böhmermann, an award-winning comedian and host of Neo Magazin Royale, a late-night talk show.
Böhmermann is accused of insulting Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mercy me! Let’s not insult corrupt leaders, especially when you are in bed with them.
Please consider Merkel Allows Criminal Probe into Satirical Attack on Turkish PM
Chancellor Angela Merkel has given the go-ahead for German authorities to launch a criminal investigation against a well-known TV comedian for his satirical attack on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a move that has caused an outcry among supporters of free speech in Germany.
She also said Germany would abolish article 103 of its criminal code which makes it a crime to insult a foreign head of state and which paved the way for Mr Erdogan to request that the TV star be prosecuted.
Ms Merkel’s decision split the German government. “The criminal prosecution of satire over lese majeste does not belong in a modern democracy,” said Thomas Oppermann, a senior official in the social democratic party, the junior partner in Ms Merkel’s government.
“Unbearable kowtowing,” tweeted Sahra Wagenknecht, a leader of the leftwing opposition party Die Linke, who accused Ms Merkel of “sacrificing Germany’s freedom of the press.”
Ms Merkel’s decision illustrates the awkward balancing act she has been forced into by Germany’s growing dependence on Turkey to help curb the massive inflows of refugees from the Middle East into Europe.
But it will lead to suspicions that Mr Erdogan has been able to take advantage of his increased leverage over EU leaders to successfully export his aggressive brand of censorship into Europe.
Critics of the deal say it has laid Ms Merkel’s government open to pressure from Mr Erdogan, whose role in the successful implementation of the EU-Turkey deal is crucial.
Nothing better exemplifies this, they claim, than the Böhmermann scandal, which was triggered two weeks ago when the comedian read out a poem on his TV show describing Mr Erdogan as having sex with sheep and goats and “watching child porn” while “kicking Kurds and beating up Christians”.
Ms Merkel said Turkey was a Nato ally that was seeking EU membership and as a “close partner” was due “respect”.
But she also said Germany was “concerned” about the state of the media in Turkey and the fate of individual journalists, as well as the restrictions it had imposed on the right to demonstrate.
Freedom of Speech – Or Not
There is either freedom of speech or their isn’t. Although Böhmermann stepped well over the line into very distasteful satire, it was to purposely draw attention to someone with a miserable record on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, Kurds, state brutality, etc.
Politico reports “Merkel could have also argued that since Erdoğan has filed a separate defamation complaint, the government saw no need to invoke the law on offending foreign leaders. More than 80 percent of Germans are opposed to the investigation, according to a poll published by Die Welt. Most Germans see it as a transparent attempt to appease Erdoğan.”
Please recall that Erodgan took over the nations largest newspaper in early March. There is no freedom of speech or press in Turkey. For details please see Devil Demands and Receives More Concessions from Merkel: In Bed with a Dictator.
Saying Erdogan deserves respect is like saying mud pies taste like ice cream. Erdogan deserves no respect nor does anyone in bed with him.
Devil Demand More Concessions of Merkel
The devil is back with more demands: Prosecute comedians.
Merkel’s correct response should have been, “We will launch an investigation of the law and repeal it.”
We cherish freedom of speech and freedom of the press. You ought to try it.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock