Germany: Court dismisses Turkish president’s appeal to ban poem

21 June 2018


The Hamburg Higher Court, on 15 May 2018, ruled to dismiss Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appeal to ban German comedian Jan Böhmermann’s poem due to claims of insult and mockery, according to Reuters.

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 Erdoğan with acts like bestiality and consuming child pornography, reports Business Insider.

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 Erdoğan.

Offended by the comedian’s words, the Turkish president decided to bring charges against Böhmermann via Section 103 of German law, which states that a person can be punished for up to five years for insulting or slandering “a foreign head of state”.

On 15 April 2016, fifteen days following the programme’s airing, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel approved the case brought against Böhmermann and the litigation continued for two years before coming to a close this past May.

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