The Hamburg Higher Court ruled to dismiss Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's appeal to ban German comedian Jan Böhmermann's poem due to claims of insult and mockery.
The court ruled that the poem could not be completely banned due to
Germany's laws protecting free speech. However, the court did uphold a ban regarding specific passages within the poem, which associates Erdogan with acts like bestiality and consuming child pornography.
The Turkish president was able to file a
case against the German-based comedian due to an obscure German law that deems it illegal for German citizens to insult foreign leaders.
Böhmermann initially presented the poem on 31 March 2016 on his public broadcaster ZDF television programme
Neo Magazin Royale . The satirical poem, which accused the Turkish president of repressing minorities and engaging in lewd behaviour, was read aloud by Böhmermann while he sat in front of a Turkish flag and a framed portrait of Erdogan.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is demanding that Dutch political cartoonist Ruben Oppenheimer and Twitter censor a cartoon of him from the social media platform. The cartoon showing him having sex with the blue Twitter bird, with the caption: Erdogan is not a goatfucker.
Both Oppenheimer and Twitter received a Turkish court order to remove the picture..
For now, the Dutch cartoonist will not remove the cartoon. Oppenheimer said in his tweet. Is it very silly if I now make a call to massively share it again?
Shortly before posting this cartoon again, Oppenheimer also tweeted a photo of the court order he received and a letter from Twitter asking him what he is going to do.
The court order dates from the start of this month. Twitter is considering
which steps to take. The social media platform writes that they may be obligated to take action regarding the content identified in the legal request in the future. They also ask Oppenheimer to let them know if he decides to voluntarily remove the
cartoon, or if he decides to file an objection in the Turkish courts.
Germany has decided to abolish a law which censors criticism of foreign leaders.
After the spectacular attempt at censorship by Turkey's president Erdogan, international heads of state will no longer be able to ask the German government to prosecute
people deemed to have offended them under an obscure passage of German law.
Comic Jan Boehmermann sparked a diplomatic row between Ankara and Berlin when his insulting and satircal poem aired on German television last March. It described Erdogan
as stupid, cowardly and uptight before descending into sexual references and language later described by judges in Hamburg as abusive and libellous content . The outraged Turkish leader filed a complaint with German prosecutors on the basis
of lese majeste.
German ministers have now agreed to scrap a line of the penal code known as lese majeste , which prohibits insulting the representatives of international governments. Justice Minister Heiko Maas called the law outdated
and unnecessary .
The idea of lese majesty arose in an era long gone by. It no longer belongs in our criminal law.
The Bundestag lower house still has to confirm the law change.
foreign leaders can still pursue their own libel and defamation cases, in the same way as anyone else.
Germany's foreign ministry has cancelled a 13 November 2016 Dresden Symphony Orchestra performance of Aghet , commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, scheduled to take place at the German consulate in Istanbul. The
ministry said that:
The whole consulate in Istanbul is not available on November 13 and that the invitations were sent out without State Department approval.
Orchestra director Markus Rindt told
It's definitely been cancelled. They said they wanted to reschedule at a better time, but when would that be? This has been planned for years.
The Aghet project began in November 2015 when
he conceived of the idea to bring together Armenian, Turkish and German musicians to play a concert together to remember the events that happened 101 years ago and to act a symbol of reconciliation.
In advance of the performance, the orchestra had
invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu. But last April Turkey had demanded the European Commission pull its 200,000 Euros of funding from the symphony's project as the
country takes offence at any mention of the 1915 Armenian genocide.
A German TV comedian who was the centre of a major diplomatic row between Berlin and Ankara over a poem insulting the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been told he will not face prosecution.
German prosecutors said that they had dropped
their investigation into Jan Böhmermann because of insufficient evidence he had committed a crime. The explained that the poem was protected by so-called Kunstfreiheit, or artistic freedom and said that criminal actions could not be proven with the
necessary certainty .
In March Böhmermann had read a poem on state TV in which he lampooned the Turkish leader, arguing that he was doing so to test the boundaries of satire.
However, legal proceedings are still not over for Böhmermann.
On 2 November, a Hamburg court will decide whether a private prosecution that Erdogan himself has brought against the comic can go ahead. In addition, laywers for Erdogan have reportedly lodged an appeal against the state prosecutor's decision to drop
After the decision, Böhmermann lashed out at Merkel's government:
If a joke causes a constitutional crisis, it's not the joke that's the problem, it's the state
In a pre-recorded
video statement which veered wildly in tone, he made light of the controversy and gave a bizarre rendition of the Monty Python song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life complete with a surprisingly convincing English accent. But he also
signalled he was not prepared to back down and renewed his attack on Erdogan:
Compared to what critical journalists, satirists and opposition figures are going through in Turkey, all this fuss about the Böhmermann
Affair is a big sad joke in itself. While you sit watch this video people are in prison in Turkey with no chance of a fair trial, their passports surrendered, their jobs lost, just because they took a critical look at their own country.
Meanwhile, their relatives in Germany are afraid to speak freely on the phone, because they fear reprisals against their loved ones in Turkey.
Turkish President Erdogan's lawyer said that he has filed a complaint in a bid to get Jan Boehmermann's satirical poem mocking Erdiogan banned in its entirety. Previously a German court banned just the six verses suggesting Erdogan engaged in bestiality
and watched child pornography.
Lawyer Michael-Hubertus von Sprenger said he had filed the complaint to a court in Hamburg and wanted to get a full injunction to replace the preliminary one as well as get unbanned sections prohibited.
A Cologne court has refused to grant an injunction against the chief executive of leading publishing house Axel Springer, Mathias Doepfner, at the behest of Tayyip Recep Erdogan.
Doepfner penned an open letter in support of a satirist mocking the
Seeking a preliminary injunction, Erdogan requested that a lawsuit be filed against Doepfner. In a letter published by Die Welt in April, Doepfner said that he wholeheartedly endorsed the critical poem over which the German
comic Jan Bohmermann has been facing defamation charges from Erdogan. He added:
For me your poem worked. I laughed out loud.
The lawyer's firm and Erdogan's office refused to comment on the matter,
while the media group giant's spokeswoman said that by writing the letter Doepfner wanted to protect freedom of speech.
On Monday Erdoga's law firm announced on its website that it had been successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction against
German director and producer Uwe Boll who had also reportedly backed the poem. However, neither Axel Springer, nor Doepfner himself was mentioned in the statement.
A court in Hamburg has issued a preliminary injunction banning 18 of the 24 verses in a German comedian's satirical poem lampooning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being supposedly abusive and defaming.
The court order issued on
Tuesday applies to the whole of Germany, Reuters reported. The court explianed its censorship:
Through the poem's reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go
beyond what the petitioner [Erdogan] can be expected to tolerate,
Whenever the authorities use the word 'balance' it invariably means that rights are being taken away. The German court is no exception. It said the decision was
necessary to balance the right to artistic freedom and the personal rights of Turkey's leader, but added that its ruling could be appealed.
Germany's parliament was 'shocked' when one MP read aloud Jan Bohmermann's poem about Turkey's president which sparked an international free speech row last month. His performance was aired on national TV. He said the aim had been to show how awful
The poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gained an audience in the Bundestag when Detlef Seif, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party recited the entire text standing at the pulpit.
audience gasped in awe when Seit began to recite the text.
Seit said he wanted to illustrate how awful the text was, claiming that he had been absolutely disgusted by it:
I didn't want to do this, but I read
this to you so that one knows what was actually said here. A person's honor is clearly infringed upon here.
Berlin-based newspaper die tageszeitung published a German-Turkish edition that denounced media censorship under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European silence about it.
The 16-page special edition entitled Uncensored / Sansursuz was
produced jointly with Turkish weekly Agos and BirGun daily and featured stories with headlines including What is the [Turkish] government hiding?
An editorial accused Berlin and Brussels of staying largely silent on Ankara's alleged rights
abuses at a time when the European Union needs Turkey to limit the influx of migrants and refugees from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
Jan Böhmermann, the German satirist facing possible charges for insulting Erdogan, meanwhile broke his silence in an
interview with Die Zeit weekly. He said in a pre-released excerpt:
The chancellor must not wobble when it comes to freedom of expression. Instead she filleted me, served me up to a neurotic despot for tea and turned me
into a German Ai Weiwei.
Offsite Article: You’ve got to laugh? Erdogan has failed to export his sense-of-humour failure.
A Dutch journalist was blocked from leaving Turkey on Sunday following her arrest on Saturday night for tweets deemed critical of the easily offended Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ebru Umar, a well-known atheist and feminist journalist
of Turkish origin, recently wrote a piece criticising Erdogan for the Dutch daily Metro, extracts of which she then tweeted, leading to her arrest. After her arrest in the resort town of Kusadasi in western Turkey, where she was on holiday, Dutch
officials said, she was brought before a judge.
She later said she was free but forbidden to leave the country .
Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey punishable by up to four years in jail, but the law has rarely been
invoked. Since Erdogan became president in 2014, prosecutors have opened more than 1,800 cases against people for insulting him, the justice minister said last month.
The Dutch government considers freedom of speech and the freedom of the press to be fundamental values which
cannot be used as bargaining chips, foreign minister Bert Koenders said a briefing to parliament on Thursday. He said:
We do not bargain with fundamental values, even if we are making agreements with a country about
other issues. These are completely separate.
Koenders was updating MPs on the arrest of Metro columnist Ebru Umar, who was picked up in Turkey last weekend after sending out two tweets considered to be insulting to Turkish president
Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Nobody should be surprised that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has instituted effective blasphemy laws to defend himself from criticism in Turkey. But many of us had assumed that these lèse-majesté laws would not yet be put in place inside
At the end of last month, during a late-night comedy programme, a young German comedian called Jan Böhmermann included a poem that was rude about Erdogan. Incidentally the point of Mr Böhmermann's skit was to highlight the
obscenity of Turkey already trying to censor satire in Germany.
What happened next happened in swift order. First of all the Turks complained to their German counterparts. Within a few days the programme had been pulled. A few
more days and it was whitewashed out of existence altogether. In the meantime Mr Böhmermann himself was forced to go under police protection. The worst blow then came late last week when Chancellor Merkel allowed the prosecution of Mr Böhmermann to go
ahead in Germany. Strangely enough, Chancellor Merkel is currently pretending that the trial of a German comedian in Germany for insulting a foreign despot is a liberal act. .
Well I'm a free-born British man, and we don't live
under the blasphemy laws of such despots. So in honour of this fact I have spent the weekend writing rude limericks about Mr Erdogan. And I would hereby like to invite all readers to join me in a grand Erdogan limerick competition. That isn't to say that
entries which come in the form of Iambic pentameters, or heroic couplets will be completely discounted. I think a work in the Homeric mode, for example, about the smallness of Erdogan's manhood could (if suitably disgusting) stand some chance of winning.
But I recommend limericks because almost everything insulting that is worth saying can usually be included within the five lines of that beautiful and delicate form.
A generous reader, who shares the Spectator's belief in the
freedom of speech, is offering a £1000 prize for the best limerick. We've had some great entries so far, please keep them coming.
And the melon farmers get the ball rolling:
There was a little dicked hater from Turkey, Who
got his hooks into a frau somewhat murky, He bullied and cajoled, Got free speech overruled, And celebrated by fucking the donkey.
Well the entries have been flooding in for the Insult Erdogan
Poetry Contest . Thousands and thousands of them in fact, with entries from all over the world. The volume is quite extraordinary, particularly the number that are being submitted in Arabic.
Next week there is going to be a
major development as I unveil the international prize jury who are going to help judge the event. I am proud to say that we already have an extraordinary array of international literary stars who are going to help adjudicate what is now the world's
highest paying poetry prize.
Dutch MPs have called for a parliamentary debate about a letter that was sent out by Turkey's consulate in Rotterdam calling Turkish organizations in the Netherlands to report people who insult the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Party, SP, demanded a debate on the matter. MP Sade Karabulut described the email as Erdogan's long arm in the Netherlands and accused the Turkish government of trying to intervene at Netherland's domestic affairs. A parliamentary majority
supported the MP's call for a debate, though it hasn't been scheduled yet.
The move was not well received by many in Turkey too. The Dutch offices of Turkish opposition party CHP received numerous calls from concerned Dutch citizens with Turkish
origins. CHP chairman Axu Ozalp said to the Volkskrant newspaper:
People are afraid because they once responded to something critical on Facebook or Twitter for example. They worry about whether they can still go on holiday to Turkey with peace of mind or will they be stopped at the border. This is
very worrying and we therefore also emphatically disapprove of this call.
Update: Turkey demonstrates the need for people to be able to ridicule repressive politicians
Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has claimed that the German comedian who ridiculed Turkey's president is a racist. He added that Europe had no right to bombard his country with lectures on freedom of expression.
The row came as
Angela Merkel joined Davutoglu, Donald Tusk, the European Council President, and Frans Timmermans, the European commission vice president, to review the EU's migration deal at a refugee camp in Gaziantep. Davutoglu whinged about Jan Böhmermann's
performance and the resultant press criticism of Turkey's attack on free speech:
There was an insult against our president. The freedom of the press should never respect negate for human dignity. I mean, very heavy
insults against a president of a country that one should not read or hear about? Is that really part of freedom of the press? If the same words were uttered for the president of another nation, would they be acceptable I wonder?
Donald Tusk stood up for free speech replying:
As a politician, I have learned and accepted to have a thick skin, and I have no expectation that the Press will treat me with a special care - quite the opposite.
The line between criticism, insult and defamation is very thin and relative, and the moment politicians decide which is which can mean the end between freedom of expression, in Europe, in Turkey, in Africa and Russia, everywhere. I
hope that in the future freedom of speech will not be our main topic of dialogue.
Dutch comedian Hans Teeuwen has weighed in to the free speech battle with the repressive Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Teeuwen has produced a YouTube video having fun with the claim that Erdogan used to be a boywhore in an
Istanbul brothel. The video takes the form of Teeuwen being interviewed by a reporter.
The reporter repeatedly says the claims are satire or a sketch, but Teeuwen, who tours the UK this autumn, insists this is a true story. When challenged
that he is insulting a befriended head of state, the comic replies: This is a whore customer standing up for his rights.
Both Germany and The Netherlands have laws against insulting foreign heads of state which means Teeuwen could
also find himself in legal trouble. Hopefully Erdogan hasn't so much leverage over the Netherlands compared to Germany.
An orchestra in Germany has accused Turkey of forcing it to change the name of a concert it is scheduled to give on April 30, as well as remove a piece from its program that calls the massacre of Armenians a genocide. The name of the event is Aghet
, a term commonly used by Armenians to describe the events of 1915 as genocide, whose literal translation in English is catastrophe.
The Dresden Symphony orchestra said that Turkey's delegation to the EU had reportedly asked the
European Commission (EC), which is financially supporting the event, to defund the concert and remove its title from the EC's official website. While the Commission declined to withdraw the financial support, it did remove the announcement of the
concert. A spokesperson for the Commission came up with a few weasel words to justify the censorship:
Due to concerns raised regarding the wording used in the project description, the Commission temporarily withdrew
The orchestra's director, Markus Rindt, slammed Turkey's bold interference as an an infringement on freedom of expression.
The Turkish embassy is attempting to censor a Swedish channel broadcast pf a documentary film about the Armenian genocide.
Ahead of Sunday evening's scheduled broadcast of a documentary titled Seyfo 1915 : The Assyrian Genocide , TV4
said it received an email from Turkish embassy press officer Arif Gulen, in which he opposes the film's use of the term genocide, which is often used to describe the tragic death of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks during WWI.
The letter, which was subsequently published on TV4's official website claims hat only a competent international tribunal can determine whether a particular event is genocide.
The broadcaster denounced Gulen's attempt to pressure the
channel to cancel its broadcast, while promising to air the documentary on Sunday despite the warning. TV4's program director, Viveka Hansson said on the website:
We can never accept this. We will protest against any
attempt to exert pressure that threatens freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, an orchestra in Germany has accused Turkey of forcing it to change the name of a concert it is scheduled to give on April 30, as well as remove a piece from
its program that calls the massacre of Armenians a genocide. The name of the event is Aghet, a term commonly used by Armenians to describe the events of 1915 as genocide, whose literal translation in English is catastrophe.
Dresden Symphony orchestra said that Turkey's delegation to the EU had reportedly asked the European Commission (EC), which is financially supporting the event, to defund the concert and remove its title from the EC's official website. While the
Commission declined to withdraw the financial support, it did remove the announcement of the concert. A spokesperson for the Commission came up with a few weasel words to justify the censorship:
Due to concerns raised
regarding the wording used in the project description, the Commission temporarily withdrew it,
The orchestra's director, Markus Rindt, slammed Turkey's bold interference as an an infringement on freedom of expression.
Ankara reportedly tried to pressurise Berlin into censoring a satirical clip aired by German broadcaster NDR earlier this month.
However, the show's producers decided to amplify the message and released English and Turkish subtitled versions of
the video criticizing the Turkish President.
Following the broadcast of the satirical piece titled Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan on an NDR show titled Extra 3 on March 17, German Ambassador Martin Erdmann was summoned several days later
to officially explain in length the reasons for the broadcaster's behavior. An anonymous Turkish diplomat told AFP:
We demanded that the programme be deleted.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Office
in Berlin said that Erdmann has been called in once again. However, during the meeting the German ambassador made it clear to the Turkish side that Germany is home to freedom of speech which it will protect. Erdmann said:
The rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the protection of fundamental freedoms, including press freedom... need to be protected.
In the meantime, Extra 3 went out on a full-blown offensive against
Erdogan's demand. The program's Facebook page shared an image of the request to stop showing the clip under the caption: Erdogan's idea of 'TV on demand' .
The satirical piece about The big boss from Bosporus, who is ripe for his
great Ottoman Empire, starts off with criticizing Erdogan crackdown on freedom of speech. Erdogan is also criticized for the alleged shuffling of the electorate votes and cracking down on women.
The controversy inevitably added to the
popularity of the video, with the English version of the video on YouTube receiving over 1.7 million views in less than 24 hours after the news first emerged of Ankara summoning the German Ambassador.
European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker has criticized Ankara's reaction to a satirical clip about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broadcast on German TV. Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said:
The EU chief
does not approve of [Ankara's] decision to summon Germany's envoy just over a satirical song. He believes this moves Turkey away from the EU rather than brings it closer to us.
She quoted the Commission chief as saying that Turkey's
Doesn't seem to be in line with upholding the freedom of the press and freedom of expression, which are values the EU cherishes a lot .
A German prosecutor's office has confirmed that it is investigating if TV comedian Jan Böhmermann violated the law by reciting a "defamatory poem" about Turkish President Erdogan, while Chancellor Angela Merkel called the piece deliberately insulting.
Böhmermann introduced the piece by speaking directly to the Turkish president: What I'm about to read is not allowed. If it were to be read in public - that would be forbidden in Germany, Böhmermann said, before proceeding to perform
his smear poem which, among many insults, called Erdogan a goat fucker who watches child porn while kicking Kurds.
The prosecution is to determine whether Böhmermann, the host of German state broadcaster ZDF's satirical
program Neo Magazine Royale, breached section 103 of the German criminal code that forbids insulting official bodies and representatives of foreign states.
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. Section 104 of the German criminal code allows prosecutors to proceed with such investigations only at a foreign government's request. So far, Turkey has not
initiated any public proceedings against the comedian.
In an attempt to remedy the situation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel blasted the poem as deliberately insulting in a phone conversation with Turkish Prime-Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on
Sunday, according government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
In the wake of the conversation, a video recording of the poem was removed from ZDF's website. The broadcaster's spokesman, Alexander Stock, said that what was presented in the form of a
poem for us have been a step too far.
Update: Bluffs are being called, is Germany now ruled by Turkey?
Turkey is now asking for Germany to prosecute a satirist who made fun of its president.
No matter how Merkel decides, experts say she can't win. She'll either offend an important diplomatic partner or alienate German supporters for being seen to
be under the influence of a repressive dictator.
On Monday, the German government announced it would look into Turkey's request to prosecute jan Böhmermann for a taunting poem the satirist presented in his weekly TV show, Neo Magazine Royale
. In it, Böhmermann called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a zoophile, accusing him of sleeping with goats and beating up girls, Christians and Kurds.
The diplomatic spat between Turkey and Germany comes at an
especially inopportune time. For Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkey is an important partner in the refugee crisis. Merkel has already given Turkey a massively generous (and unsupported by many in Europe) carrot of an opportunity for early entry into the
Critics of the deal had already complained that by entering the agreement, Merkel would make herself too dependent on Erdogan, a man whose regime has recently made news by shutting down newspapers and arresting government-critical journalists.
Even foreign politicians have entered the discussion. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has proclaimed his support for Böhmermann, despite having been the butt of his jokes many times in the past.
Offsite Comment: Germany's unfunny attack on the freedom to mock
Angela Merkel, has been criticised by
members of her cabinet after acceding to a request from the Turkish president to prosecute a comedian who read out a poem insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Merkel was left with the final decision on whether Germany's state prosecutor should
start proceedings against Böhmermann after Erdogan requested the comedian be prosecuted.
Under an obscure section of Germany's criminal code, prosecution for insults against organs or representatives of foreign states requires both a notification
from the offended party and an authorisation from the government.
Update: German censorship victim has decided to suspend his own TV show
A German comedian whose satirical poem about the new leader of Germany, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has demonstrated the loss of freedom of speech in the country. Popular comic Jan Boehmermann has now decided to suspend his own TV show.
light of the controversy Boehmermann said he was taking a televisual pause to allow the public to concentrate again on really important matters such as the refugee crisis, videos of cats or the love life of (German actress and model) Sophia
Merkel's decision to OK the persecution of Boehmermann has appalled rights bodies such as Human Rights Watch which has called on the German authorities to defend freedom of speech even if the contents of the speech are
offensive to some .