00:15 08.04.2016(updated 00:22 08.04.2016)
German law prohibits intentionally slandering a foreign head of state, applying a five year prison sentence if the insulted person sues.
Comedian Jan Böhmermann faces up to five years imprisonment under German defamation laws for his poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the poem, the comedian refers to the Turkish President with the racial slur of “goat f*****,” in addition to many other pointed insults.
In verse, Böhmermann alleges that the Turkish leader suffers from a diminished “tail,” which, in German, is suggestive of the penis. The popular comedian was apparently attempting to outdo an offensive song he wrote in March about Erdogan that elicited complaints from Ankara.
The comedian was apparently aware that his speech and his comedy act violates German law.
“What I’m about to read is not allowed and if it were to be read in public – that would be forbidden in Germany,” said Böhmermann, as a prelude to reading his poem on public radio station ZDF.
Other lyrical insults directed at the embattled Turkish president include assertions that he “watches child porn while kicking Kurds,” referring to reports that Erdogan seeks persecution and destruction of the Kurdish minority, an ancient ethnic group whose soldiers the international community largely credits with repelling Daesh on the ground.
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel apologized on behalf of the German people in a personal call to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, saying that she agreed the poem was intended as a “deliberate insult.”
The German radio station ZDF, after broadcasting the poem, has complied with an official order to remove the audio content from their website.
Under paragraph 103 of the German Criminal Code, insulting a foreign head of state intentionally is punishable with up to five years in prison, if the insulted government leader files a lawsuit.
Erdogan stated only days ago that, while he “welcomed criticism,” he would nonetheless file a lawsuit against anyone who insulted him. Currently the Turkish government has not filed any charges.