• Germany's news in English
German comedian could face jail for insulting Erdogan
Jan Böhmermann. Photo: DPA

German comedian could face jail for insulting Erdogan

The Local · 6 Apr 2016, 12:17

Published: 06 Apr 2016 12:17 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Jan Böhmermann knew what he was doing when he read out a self-penned poem insulting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan live on his late night show on Thursday evening.

He introduced the piece by speaking directly to the Turkish president.

“What I’m about to read is not allowed. If it were to be read in public - that would be forbidden in Germany,” Böhmermann said, before proceeding to perform his "smear poem" which, among many insults, called Erdogan a “goat fucker” who “watches child porn while kicking Kurds.”

Böhmermann has reached an unrivalled level of popularity among Germany’s youth for his boundary-pushing humour in a comedy scene which is often dry and formulaic.

He was reacting to an official complaint made by the Turkish government against a satirical song broadcast on public television in March which mocked Erdogan for his pomposity and his poor human rights record.

WATCH: The video Turkey wants banned from Germany

News agency DPA learned from Turkish government sources at the time that Ankara had demanded the film never be broadcast again.

It appears that Böhmermann was trying to explain the difference between satire and slander to the Turkish head of state - with his poem very much being an instance of the latter.

But Tagesspiegel now reports that the legal consequences for the comedian could be as severe as five years in jail.

The Berlin newspaper cites an internal legal assessment conducted by the Foreign Ministry which concludes that it is “highly likely” Böhmermann committed a crime.

The Foreign Ministry conducted the assessment in an emergency meeting after their Turkish counterparts expressed serious displeasure at the poem.

According to paragraph 103 of the German Criminal Code, insulting a foreign head of state can result in a three-year jail term, or if the insult is an intended slander, the sentence can stretch to five years.

Broadcaster ZDF has since removed the poem from its website.

Story continues below…

Chancellor Angela Merkel also personally intervened with a phone call to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in which she described the sketch as a “deliberate insult”.

For Böhmermann to face legal action, the Turkish government will have to make an official complaint.

According to Tagesspiegel, Merkel’s intervention calmed the Turkish government, making it less likely they will resort to this measure.

SEE ALSO: Comedian goes viral with 'Be Deutsch, Be Nice' video

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd