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Erdogan and the EU
Germany Bows to the Caliph

Will German prosecutors act as enforcers for Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian President Erdogan? Deutsche Welle reports:

Jan Böhmermann could face three years in prison for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the weekly satirical variety show “Neo Magazin Royale.” Before reciting his satirical poem on March 31, Böhmermann called it an example of speech that Germany would not permit. He was perhaps more right than he expected.

“It could be a violation of section 103 of the criminal code: insulting organs or representatives of foreign states,” prosecution spokesman Gerd Deutschler said on Wednesday.

Prosecutors in the western city of Mainz, where ZDF is based, plan to consult the federal Justice Ministry on whether to launch criminal proceedings in the name of the Turkish state or President Erdogan himself. […]

On the broadcast, Böhmermann, seated before the Turkish flag and a portrait of Erdogan, accuses the president of, among other things, sex with goats and sheep. Böhmermann also charged that Erdogan loves to “repress minorities, kick Kurds and beat Christians while watching child porn.”

Laws on speech vary from country to country and are stricter in Germany than many other Western nations; Böhmermann himself acknowledged that what he was doing was technically illegal; and some of his comments certainly are in poor taste. But all that granted, Erdogan does have a pretty well-established record of egregiously repressing domestic enemies—and he has been doing far more than merely repressing the Kurds in Turkey.

As for Erdogan, you might expect such a long-serving leader to have a thicker skin. Surely he can find some corner of his thousand-room, $350m palace to cry in? (Of course, once you start to live like a caliph, you start to expect to be treated like one everywhere you go. Erdogan’s bodyguards roughed up protesters and journalists in Washington, D.C. during his visit last month.)

In any case, Angela Merkel dutifully sprung to action after conferring with Turkish PM Davutoglu:

A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a statement Monday that condemned the poem, explaining that “satire takes place within our country’s press and media freedom, which — as you know — is not unlimited.”

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu welcomed Merkel’s comments on Tuesday but said that any insult to Erdogan was an insult to all Turkish people’s honor. It would not go without a “response,” Davutoglu explained.

All in all, this has been a sad spectacle. Germany clearly needs Turkey to hold up its end of the most recent EU-Turkey deal and keep refugees from flooding Europe. (Erdogan was already threatening to abrogate the bargain unless the “precision conditions” [sic] of it are met.) As we wrote when Turkey and the EU hammered out their first bargain this fall, Europe’s lack of a refugee policy and a Syria policy put Erdogan in the catbird seat, and compelled the EU to pay a high moral price for the deal. This is likely just the first down-payment.

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  • Beauceron

    It’s something we in the West need to get used to.

    Our elites hate our guts– I mean, they truly hate us all. So if an Islamic dictator demands the investigation (or even imprisonment or death) of a citizen for mocking or questioning him, it’s best to ignore the facts that that dictator has shown nothing but disrespect for other faiths, that under his regime people of other faiths are regularly murdered and raped, that freedom of speech doesn’t exist in his own country and that citizens and journalists are regularly arrested and banned for expressing their opinion or criticizing the leader.

    In the West, our elites have been oikophobes for decades. And we said nothing. We accepted it and accepted them as our betters.

    Now our societies and cultures begin to pay the price.

    Thank your local Leftist.

    • Jim__L

      It doesn’t speak well of you that you’re accepting this.

      • f1b0nacc1

        I am not sure that Beauceron (who I don’t presume to speak for) is simply accepting this, so much as he is acknowledging that there is little that we can do about it. The Germans are an independent state, and short of deploring their cowardice (which I do), there is little that the US is going to do about this action. Honestly, his point is a good one, our own elites find this sort of thing completely acceptable…that troubles me far more….

        Apropos our exchange regarding the future of Europe, this sort of thing is precisely why I suggest that the time has come for us to disengage and leave the Eloi to their fate. Short of those countries that wish to enter into bilateral agreements that specify codes of conduct (no appeasement of the enemy, for starters), we are probably far better off washing our hands of these disgraceful cowards, calling them what they are, and hoping that something better will replace them.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Who are you expecting to replace them?

          • Jim__L

            Honestly, I’m expecting anyone aspiring to be an “elite” in this (or any) country to assimilate core tenets of Trump’s appeal — being on the side of its own citizens, and playing the game to win for the home team.

            The fact that this is so difficult is a testament to the corrosive spirit of cosmopolitanism, “flyover country” hatred, and kum-bah-yahism that is fashionable in schools.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Just to go off on a tangent here, what happens when the fans assemble to cheer for the home teams, the game is played, one team loses and then its fans pull out guns, shoot everyone in sight, bomb the playing venue and burn down the game city?

            I’m not against sports metaphors (entirely against, anyway), but we may be confused about what the “game” is, who the “teams” are and whether anyone respects any of the presumed playing rules.

          • Jim__L

            A people’s government needs to look after the needs of those people, over and above the people of the rest of the world.

            “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
            it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
            institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
            organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
            effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
            Governments long established should not be changed for light and
            transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that
            mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to
            right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
            But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the
            same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism,
            it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and
            to provide new Guards for their future security.”

          • FriendlyGoat

            ” But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

            You can find some people in the USA who think they are under absolute despotism at this time and who want to abolish the American way of governmental life—-but not many. Not really. When you call for such a thing, your opponents will show up singing Lee Greenwood’s famous song, “God Bless the USA”.

          • Jim__L

            The irony here is, the “God bless the USA” types are the most likely to believe that something has recently (under Obama) gone very wrong.

          • FriendlyGoat

            “Some things” have gone terribly wrong and we have to remember that Lee Greenwood “thanked his luck stars to be living here today” in 1984—–before the tax-cut and employment-at-will mania of that era delivered three decades of hope-killing blows to the households who might otherwise like the song. Blaming Obama is pretty lame.

          • Tom

            Except that’s not quite how it worked, but keep telling yourself that.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Certainly it is true that not everything which has gone wrong in the USA since 1984 is the result of high-end tax cuts—–AND——certainly neither are they all the fault of Barack Obama. You know what I was answering there from Jim.

          • Jim__L

            FG, there’s a lot more going on in the economy than just marginal tax rates. Please develop a sense of perspective.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I try to see that, really. I’m not unaware that globalization has its drawbacks now for the countries who got so used to having capacity and advantages that others didn’t in say the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. But, the economy is this country and many others is chugging along with wealth concentrating at the top and most people becoming expendable and irrelevant. This is not something caused by Barack Obama. It’s bigger than just our country or just his terms. It is not solved by cracking up both the tax codes and collective bargaining and thereby accelerating the concentration at the top in this country and all countries. If you know what to do that is not a recitation of the stock RNC boilerplate, tell me.

          • Jim__L

            I’ve never heard anyone from either party talk about expansive innovation rather than disruptive innovation. It’s depressing.

        • Andrew Allison

          As I contemplate our Administration’s kow-towing to China in the S. China Sea and the BGI at home, being outflanked by Russia in Libya and elsewhere, being treated with contempt by Iran, etc., I don’t see much difference, or hope for Western Civilization.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Out of general frustration with all kinds of things, we have people today who believe we can be at active war with China, Islam and Russia all at once—-WHILE—pulling back from world affairs and spending more of our treasure and effort on the interior of America. It’s harder for me to see how that all adds up.

          • Andrew Allison

            History shows us that appeasement leads to war.

          • FriendlyGoat

            History also shows that war leads to war. The fact of the matter is that we are not equipped or positioned to have wars with China, Russia and Islam all at once——especially not while pretending we want to disengage from all of it and spend our time and effort filling potholes and replacing bridges.

          • f1b0nacc1

            There is a huge difference between disengaging with those regions that are lost causes, and disengaging with the entire world. Europe is a lost cause (until they change their ways, which I consider unlikely), but there are other areas (NE Asia, the Anglosphere, perhaps parts of the Caribbean and Central America for instance, though there are others) where an active US presence may in fact be useful and worth the expense and effort. If you believe that kind words and gestures are going to stop determined states who have no real long-term interest in a world system based on Western principles, you are fooling yourself. Standing up to these states (surgical strikes at Iran for instance, encouragement of South Korean and/or Japan to acquire nuclear weapons in response to North Korea – something China is terrified of, aggressive steps to undermine Russia economically) are all options that are the sort of thing that stop large-scale wars.

            Wars that are not ended successfully encourage more wars, I should point out that WWII (which ended with the utter defeat of the Axis) was quite final and didn’t encourage revanchist behavior by the defeated states, while the endless chain of brushfire wars administered by the ‘best and brightest’ since then haven’t had the same effect. When you start a war, your goals and methods should be clear…if not, you are creating the basis for the next war. Remember however, there is a difference between a police action against a lesser state (Iran, North Korea, etc.) and a war with a peer or near-pear.

            Finally, the costs associated with ‘filling potholes and replacing bridges’ are hardly the only thing competing with the military. The unsustainable social spending (Obamacare, Medicare, Social Security, etc.) dwarf even the most ambitious infrastructure program. Lets remember that when Obama came into office in 2009 he got the better part of a trillion dollars in stimulus spending, most of which was frittered away rewarding his buddies in the various public sector unions, rather than actually building anything. Even the small portion of that funding that actually went into infrastructure was delayed by endless regulation and much was diverted into ‘green’ crony capitalist payoffs to Democrat donors.

            Even you can do better than this…

          • FriendlyGoat

            You and I differ in whether we, the Americans, will be more or less successful in promoting a free world by dumping an alliance with Europeans.

            Separately, the idea that Iran and North Korea are doable by “police action” is dubious, given our first experience with Korea, followed by Vietnam and Iraq. There are people who are “frustrated by all kinds of things” (as I mentioned above) who desperately want to see America “kicking some butt” (like they want their town teams to win a Super Bowl or World Series) and who underestimate the costs and realities involved. Any president going forward does not have an enviable job. Neither does/did Obama.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Regarding our difference re: the EUnicks….fair enough. They (the EUnicks) are simply dead weight and increasing un-free, but obviously reasonable people (even you and I!) can disagree on this…

            As for ‘police actions’, I did not use that term, nor would I support it. Iran and North Korean are not ‘fixable’,but we can limit their damage by defanging them with surgical strikes (a phrase that I did use). Destroy their weapons, their means of exerting influence, and then leave them with the rubble….lets not make the same mistake (a tragic, nobly minded one, but a mistake nonetheless) of trying to reform them as Bush did. These are savages at best, and when confronted with dangerous animals, one defangs them, and keeps them in a cage.

            Obama wanted to pretend that his words would tame them, and that is the most charitable interpetation I can give for his foolishness. He had a difficult hand to play, and he made it worse with his incompetence.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I didn’t think I imagined “police action”. Isn’t that in the last sentence of your second paragraph immediately above? As for surgical strikes, I don’t entirely disagree with you, but an attack on another nation is an attack on another nation. When Congress says do it is when a president should do it. We are blaming this president (or any president) for not being a cowboy when being such a cowboy is both unconstitutional and against international law. This open-ended AUMF stuff is a cop-out and only works well when you have a reserved CIC, which we do.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You are indeed correct re: ‘Police action’, and I apologize for not noting my own comment!

            It is long past time when the US returns to the notion of rogue states forfeiting their traditional protections vis a vis inviolability of borders. We were entirely willing to take steps against menaces to the peace in the time of Jefferson, and there is nothing wrong with acknowleging that this was a good idea. Of course Congress must agree, but the President must be willing to ask, and then willing to respect the role of Congress that the founders laid out. Obama did neither. As for being a cowboy, the constitutionality of conducting a drone campaign without congressional approval is obviously lacking (Bush, you might remember had such approval), though international law is less clear, and quite frankly less relevant. You may or may not like the AUMF (I don’t care for it, declarations of war are more appropriate, or at least something more detailed than ‘kill the bad guys, we will figure it out later), but that is more a question of Congress being spineless in defending its perogatives than anything else. Obama as a ‘reserved’ CIC? Please, you are smarter than that…disengaged, incompetent, delusional…fine…not reserved….ask the folks in Libya and Syria about his reserve, no to mention much of Pakistan. He is ‘reserved’ only when he fears he might accidentally take steps in the interest of the US rather than his own sense of ‘world destiny’

            You will likely never see a strong bipartisan majority of congress signing off on our actions, which is why we have a constitution that restrains us int he first place. Lets see about having a president who tries to build a case, rather than simply assert his wisdom first…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Instead of repealing ObamaCare fifty times, we could use a House which understands that it is accountable for the unchecked antics of Kim Jong Un just as much as any president. We citizens are probably remiss in not reminding our individual Congressman (woman) that we would like to know what exactly would elicit a pre-emptive strike authorization from him or her. It that throws the representative off balance for not being the usual “town hall” question, good.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually I don’t disagree with you at all (let’s not make a habit of this)

          • FriendlyGoat

            Why not? Agreeing is really more fun than not agreeing.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Unless we are willing to defend it (and right now, we are not….though remember, this sort of thing changes…), it won’t survive. We might consider what steps are necessary to change this…

          • Andrew Allison

            Studying, rather than painfully relearning, the lessons of history (Sudetenland, for example), might be a good start. Also restoring studies of Western civilization and culture to school curricula.

          • f1b0nacc1

            We agree here (Horrors!), but let me suggest that wresting control of the curricula from those who have no real devotion to Western Civilization might be a good start.

          • Andrew Allison

            Alternatively, make Western Civilization part of the curriculum and find alternative employment in, say, China or Iran for those who don’t like it!

          • f1b0nacc1

            Those that currently control the curriculum aren’t going to give up their death-grip easily, and the struggle against them must be the first step. But again, we are agreed in terms of goals, we differ perhaps (slightly) on methods…

      • Beauceron

        I am not sure, at this point, what else to do.

        Europe’s demographic change, like America’s is a done deal. These are ground level changes that can’t be undone. Europe has not merely taken in millions of people, they have changed their societies and cultures forever and prosecuting one of their own citizens for mocking a foreign dictatorial leader who very much deserves mocking is just the beginning,

      • MarkJ

        I talked to my pals Kalashnikov, Smith & Wesson and they uniformly said, “No, we’re not gonna get used to this stuff.”

  • FriendlyGoat

    I’ve never believed that we damage evil or questionable people by going so ridiculously far into satire as to invite their “righteous indignation” or invite even crazier people (every Islamist who is not a hater of Erdogan) to defend them. It’s hard to see how Bohmermann is being helpful.

  • Angel Martin

    “It could be a violation of section 103 of the criminal code: insulting organs or representatives of foreign states,”

    what kind of bullshit law is this anyway ?

    Oh, and I am sure this law was strictly enforced when George W Bush was President.

  • bpbatista

    How many Germans were prosecuted for insulting George W Bush or Ronald Reagan when they were in office?

  • T. Jedele

    This is jumping the gun a bit. As I understand it from what I’ve read in the German press, private individuals can ask the prosecutor to investigate whether the “crime”should be prosecuted. That happened. It may be that the prosecutor is legally obliged to investigate, regardless of whether he thinks the complaint is valid–I don’t know but I’m guessing he is. Then the Turks must ask for prosecution. They have done that. Finally the central government must agree to let the case go forward. Authorities in Berlin are to discuss the question on Monday, April 11. So nothing has been decided yet.
    If people who insulted American presidents were never prosecuted, presumably it’s because Washington never sought prosecution.

  • Simpatica

    “section 103 of the criminal code:”
    No doubt left over from 1938.

    The Germans never seem to get over this kind of stuff.

  • PierrePendre

    Böhmermann has plenty of ammunition to attack Erdogan without resorting to lurid sexual slurs. A few years ago, a “humourist” with a morning slot on French public radio began deliberately baiting his bosses with violent attacks on Sarkozy who was then in power. He finally managed to get himself sacked by imagining on air what fun it would be to sodomise the president. There was a three nanosecond outcry about censorship from the usual suspects and then everyone went back to being grown up. Of course Böhmermann should be able to say what he likes subject to the defamation laws and it’s not Merkel’s job to abuse the law to protect her favoured political allies from criticism but freedom of speech isn’t helped by so-called humourists dehumanising their victims. People resent having to defend stupidity in the name of a serious principle.

  • White Knight Leo

    “among other things, sex with goats and sheep. Böhmermann also charged that Erdogan loves to “repress minorities, kick Kurds and beat Christians while watching child porn.””
    Isn’t this kind of a selling point in that part of the world?

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