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Erdogan wins injunction against Böhmermann

May 17, 2016

A court has granted an injunction against satirist Jan Böhmermann, preventing repetition of his so-called 'Defamatory Poem' about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The court decided the comic had crossed a line.

German comedian Jan Böhmermann
Image: Imago/Sven Simon

The regional court in Hamburg on Tuesday issued an injunction at the request of Erdogan, preventing public repetition of large parts of the poem.

In its ruling, the court said Erdogan should not have to tolerate such repetition "in view of its abusive and libelous content."

In parts, the court judged Böhmermann's poem to have crossed an acceptable boundary between satire and "pure abuse." The court said it had weighed the balance between artistic freedom and freedom of expression on one hand and Erdogan's individual rights on the other.

"Through the poem's reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go beyond what the petitioner can be expected to tolerate," the court said.

Some lines deemed acceptable

The poem intimated, among other things, that Erdogan had engaged in intimate relations with goats and sheep and watched child pornography while at the same time repressing Kurdish people.

Only six lines of verse - referring to Turkey's treatment of minorities - could be recited, according to the ruling.

The Turkish president filed a complaint with prosecutors, and Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to allow the proceedings to go ahead. Insults to foreign leaders are not allowed under Germany's criminal code, but the government decides whether or not such complaints should be pursued. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to file charges.

The affair has prompted accusations that Merkel has become too accommodating to Erdogan in her effort to safeguard a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees to Europe.

A member of parliament from Merkel's own conservative Christian Democrats read the poem aloud in parliament last week.

rc/ (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)