After a German comedian read off a satirical poem on TV mocking Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan , German chancellor Angela Merkel has allowed prosecutors to decide whether or not the comedian should be charged with a crime.
Two weeks ago, comedian Jan Boehmermann read off a sexually explicit poem on on German public television station ZDF that claimed that Erdoğan was a pedophile and had sex with animals. An incensed Erdoğan responded by digging up an obscure German statute that made insulting a foreign head of state of against the law, and demanded his prosecution.
Under the law, Merkel would have to sign off on the criminal inquiry. On Friday, Merkel did just that, while promising to take steps to repeal the law. Her decision came after she had earlier faced criticism for complaining that the poem was “deliberately offensive.”
Why is Merkel bowing to an obvious speech restriction? Well, as Reuters put it, “If Merkel blocks the investigation, she risks incensing Erdogan — a key partner in stemming the flow of refugees to Europe — even more.”
[Image via screengrab]
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