News / Europe

    Turkey Protests Germany Over Satirical Erdogan Video

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace in Ankara, March 16, 2016.
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace in Ankara, March 16, 2016.
    Associated Press

    The German ambassador to Turkey has been summoned to the foreign ministry over the broadcast by German television of a song that pokes fun at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an official said Tuesday
     
    Turkey condemned the satirical video to Ambassador Martin Erdmann during a meeting last week and demanded that the public broadcaster that aired it March 17 cease showing it, according to a ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules.
     
    The German-language song, which can still be seen on broadcaster ARD's website and on social media, alludes among other things to the imprisonment of opposition journalists, authorities' heavy-handed response to protesters and allegations that Turkey prefers to take action against Kurdish rebels rather than the Islamic State group. It features a clip of Erdogan falling off a horse.
     
    Its lyrics include the line: "a journalist who writes something that doesn't suit Erdogan will be in the slammer tomorrow.''
     
    The German government did not comment on the issue.
     
    The broadcaster that made the video noted that political satire is allowed in Germany.
     
    "That the Turkish government apparently has taken diplomatic action ... is not compatible with our understanding of freedom of the press and opinion,'' Andreas Cichowicz, the chief editor of NDR television, the ARD regional broadcaster that produced the song, told German news agency dpa. He said NDR hasn't yet received any complaint.
     
     The German Federation of Journalists' chairman, Frank Ueberall, said that Erdogan "apparently has lost his grip.''
     
     He added in a statement that the president's indignation is "laughable'' but said people shouldn't overlook the fact that ``the persecution of critical journalists is bitter reality in Turkey.''
     
    Erdogan is known to be highly intolerant of criticism. More than 1,800 cases have been opened against people accused of insulting him since he came to office in 2014, under a previously seldom-used law that bars insults to the president. Those who have gone on trial include celebrities, journalists and even schoolchildren.
     
    The Turkish official also said Tuesday that Turkey is summoning a number of foreign envoys to the ministry to formally protest a group of diplomats who last week attended the trial of two opposition journalists.
     
    Erdogan severely criticized the diplomats — including one who posted selfies from the courthouse — accusing them of violating their boundaries and siding with those he said wanted to carry out a "coup'' against the government.
     
    The foreign envoys were being conveyed Turkey's concerns over "postings on social media that amount to intervention in the independence of the courts and are contrary to the principle of impartiality,'' the ministry official said.

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