A German prosecutor has launched an investigation against a famous TV comedian on suspicion of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to a satirical poem he read last Thursday.
Jan Boehmermann, a comedian and a presenter on the ZDF public broadcaster in Germany, could be charged with “insulting a representative of a foreign state” after a prosecutor in Mainz, where ZDF is based, launched the investigation.
During his weekly show Neo Magazin Royal, Böhmermann read a poem which made crude sexual jokes about Turkey’s president.
The Mainz prosecutor on Wednesday said the office had received some 20 complaints from “private individuals” about Böhmermann’s poem, automatically triggering the opening of preliminary proceedings.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Böhmermann’s satirical poem and Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the chancellor and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu agreed in a phone call on Sunday evening that the text of the poem was “deliberately offensive.”
Merkel’s criticism came at a time when she is accused of turning a blind eye to rights violations in Turkey because Germany needs Turkey’s assistance to stop the flow of refugees to Europe.
In Turkey, there are hundreds of people including journalists, academics even teenagers who face charges of insulting the president due to their critical views about Erdoğan.
The controversy over Böhmermann’s poem came after another controversy over a satirical German song, “Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan”, aired on 17 March on NDR, another public TV station.
The Turkish government summoned the German ambassador to Ankara and asked the video of the song to be deleted from NDR’s website and social media channels.