A poem making fun of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies may land a prominent German comedian in jail.
German prosecutors are considering charges against Jan Böhmermann for violating an old law that makes it illegal to make fun of foreign leaders. The charges were requested by Erdogan and could result in up to three years in jail.
Böhmermann read out a satirical poem March 31 on his television show “Neo Magazin Royale.” The segment called Erdogan “dumb, cowardly and uptight,” and Böhmermann jokingly said Erdogan enjoys child pornography and sex with animals.
The poem was a response to Erdogan’s demands to censor another satirical video about Turkey’s oppression of freedom of speech.
Germans laughed at Erdogan’s initial demands and the internet exploded with similar videos.
It was all fun and games until Erdogan found out he might have the law on his side. ZDF, the TV network where the poem aired, removed the video from the internet after Erdogan threatened legal action.
Chancellor Angela Merkel got worried the poem would jeopardize the European Union’s new deportation deal with Turkey. Her initial response was that the video was “deliberately offensive,” but that freedom of speech needs to be protected.
The chancellor later cancelled a planned trip to Turkey this week due to the current tension.
“Art and these fundamental values are valid regardless of any political problems we are discussing with each other, and that includes the refugee issue,” Merkel said Tuesday in regards to the poem.
Böhmermann’s Cologne residence is currently guarded by police after the comedian received death threats.
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