The always angry Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, should have a moment of peace and wonder why is he probably the world’s most insulted president. Since Erdogan was elected president in August 2014 he has sued at least 1,845 people for insulting him. Now his judicial challenges have been exported to Europe. An obscure German law, dating back to 1871, was used to silence Iranian dissidents critical of Iran’s Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1960s and 1970s. Now Erdogan has become the third foreign leader taking advantage of that law after a popular German comic satirized him in crude terms.
The law allows prosecution in Germany for insulting a foreign leader, but only with the consent of the government. German Chancellor Angela Merkel granted her consent for the prosecution of German comedian Jan Böhmermann, although she promised that the law allowing legal proceedings would be repealed in 2018.
All that would be a story of no importance in Turkey, where journalists tend to weigh their words more carefully these days, several newspapers have been seized or closed in recent months, broadcasters taken off air and prominent journalists getting prosecuted on charges of insult, for being members of terrorist organization or even for being spies. But Merkel’s decision to allow Böhmermann’s prosecution hardly complies with the European culture of civil liberties…. (hier)