Turkish President Appeals Ruling in German Insult Case

Courtesy of ZDF
Jan Bohmermann

President Erdogan wants to entirely ban an “insult poem” read out by a German comedian on live TV last year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan isn't backing down.

The conservative leader has filed an appeal in a German court against a ruling in the case involving a German TV comedian and a poem suggesting Erdogan enjoys sex with goats.

In February, a German court found sections of the poem, read out on live TV March 31, 2016, by German comedian Jan Bohmermann, were illegal under an old German law banning insults against foreign heads of state. The line about the goat was among them.

The court found only six lines of the so-called “insult poem” legal under the law, including one calling the Turkish President “dumb, cowardly and inhibited” and noting “he beats girls while wearing a rubber mask.” Bohmermann's lawyer appealed the ruling, calling it “absurd.”

Now Erdogan has filed his own appeal, calling on the courts to ban the entire poem. German news site Spiegel Online was the first to report the news, quoting from the appeal that accuses Bohmermann of racism against all Turkish people. Erdogan's lawyer argues the poem was not a legitimate criticism of the Turkish leader or his politics, but instead devalued him as a person.

The poem, and the legal wrangling around it, have sparked a debate in Germany about the limits of free speech. Bohmermann defends his poem as legitimate satire, saying it was intended to mock Edogan's authoritarian leadership style and was in response to the Turkish president calling for another, much tamer, satire of him from another German comedy show to be taken off the internet.

In Turkey, prosecutors have brought nearly 2,000 cases against people for allegedly insulting Erdogan since he took office in 2014.

The German government has moved to have the “slander law” stricken from the books as of January 1, 2018. A German court threw out Erdogan's criminal case against Bohmermann last year, but the separate civil suit is still ongoing.

Bohmermann appeared on Seth Meyers' late night show in April to make his case.