mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Erdogan and Europe
Erdogan Goes After Geneva

Two weeks after the Turkish government prevailed upon Germany to prosecute a comic for an insulting poem directed at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s now demanding that the Swiss remove a picture displayed at an art show that criticizes him. Foreign Policy reports:

The photo Erdogan took issue with shows a banner from a Turkish protest that features a photo of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old who died in Turkey after a police officer launched a tear gas canister that hit him in the head during protests in 2013. He spent 269 days in a coma before he died in 2014, and his family claims he was not participating in the protests in Istanbul but was en route to buy bread when he was attacked.

The banner featured in Sönmez’s photo is accompanied by the caption “My name is Berkin Elvan. The police killed me, on the order of Turkey’s prime minister.” Erdogan was prime minister at the time of the Gezi protests, and has been accused of ordering police to use force against peaceful protesters to discourage them from gathering publicly.

Switzerland, like Germany, has a law that bans insulting foreign leaders. In this case it’s unclear whether the photographer would face charges or whether Turkey’s complaint would be filed with Swiss officials for approving the selection of that photo.

This latest piece of news is the third in a row. The German comic, whose prosecution for his offensive poem has made him a cause celebre, was himself reacting to the Turkish government protesting an inane little song called “Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan” (Erdo-how, Erdo-where, Erdogan) aired on a rival show. Sounds like a certain thin-skinned President is paying a lot of attention to European social commentary!

After Germany agreed to indict the comic, we wrote that, as with the mouse who’s given a cookie, Erdogan was likely to want more if given his way. And lo and behold, here we are.

But how far can the Turkish government take this? For one thing, though President Erdogan seems unaware of it, he’s invoking the Streisand effect: each effort to squelch a criticism or insult gives it far more publicity than the original incident would have warranted. A few weeks ago, nobody would have thought to connect Recep Tayyip Erdogan to goats. Now foreign policy circles are busy adapting Welshman-and-the-sheep jokes at his expense.

And as these ham-fisted attempts to tamp down debate abroad continue, there’s a chance the joking will spread to jurisdictions without the German-Swiss “insult” laws. In the U.S., for instance, everything written about Erdogan so far would have been protected under the First Amendment, and then some. It would really be a pity if The Daily Show or The Onion, not to mention some of our raunchier comedians, were to find out about the free publicity that the Turkish Embassy is willing to bring their work…

Features Icon
show comments
  • Blackbeard

    These things are generally about domestic reaction. Erdogan doesn’t really care much about his image in Germany, or Switzerland, or the U.S. for that matter. He does however care a lot about appearing strong to his supporters in Turkey. If he can make European powers bend their knee to Turkey, and do it without paying any price, then that sells very well at home.

  • Tom_Holsinger

    The British tabloids are doing their part. A Spectator blog has started
    a 1000 pound limerick contest concerning Turkish President Erdogan.
    The limericks must be either obscene or defamatory. Both would be good.

    “Introducing ‘The President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition’ – £1000 prize to be won …

    • Beauceron

      That’s brilliant!
      The author will, sadly, likely have to go into hiding or get police protection.

  • Beauceron

    I saw today that a Dutch paper published a cartoon depicting Erdogan as an ape crushing free speech. So you can expect him to go after that next.

    Honestly, Europe has become a weak culture unable or unwilling to defend itself in any fashion. The world is a tough neighborhood, and if you show you are unwilling to defend yourself, then there are always those around who will bully you and take advantage of you. Besides, now that Europe’s elites have chosen to become Islamic, they might as well get used to the tyrannical culture of the middle east. You don’t make fun of the Big Boss Man. There’s a price to pay for that. Erdogan is just showing them who the boss is.

    • kingschitz

      Agreed. I would add that the strength of any society is its ability to protect minorities. Europe’s track record on Jews needs no repetition here. But what shocks is how it has turned its back on 50% of its population: women. The migrants rape their way across the continent while European feminists duck for cover.

      Europe has replaced Turkey as this century’s Sick Man.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The stupid political elites are just feeding the Nationalists with everything they could possibly want. Kowtowing to a Muslim Dictator, when their nation is being invaded by Muslims seeking to steal a share of the National Inheritance, is an insane level of political tone deafness.

  • Ofer Imanuel

    I think you should all watch “the 3 terrors” on youtube, starring Erdogan, Assad and Akhmenijad:

  • Erdogan badly wants to be Hitler. This neo-Ottoman wants it all, and the poor fella is being criticized.

    Why some even think of him as a… gasp …SWINE. A pig. A porker. An oink in a suit. In fact… oh the shame …I have just now decided to call him Oink Erdogan.

    Oh dear.

    Does this mean that I will never, ever be able to go back to Turkey?


    Oink Erdogan.

    A name whose time has come.

    John Little
    omegashock dot com

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service