1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

DW users react to German comedian's satirical Erdogan poem

Conor Dillon
April 13, 2016

Whether on Facebook, in our comments section or on Twitter, DW users are hammering out who's right or wrong in an escalating debate about a German comedian's televised, satirical takedown of the Turkish president.

Deutschland Medien - Jan Böhmermann
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Knabe

Jan Böhmermann's verses criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the most primitive and vulgar lines that have ever been spoken on a German public broadcasting program, writes DW's Christoph Hasselbach in his recent opinion piece.

That said, should the comedian's "calculated breach of German law" result in a court case?

DW's users have weighed in. Their comments below have been edited for formatting, spelling and punctuation.

Shaun R. : Nobody has to respect anybody. It's decent to do so, but all people have freedom of expression or at least should. Throwing a hissy fit because you, the leader of a nation, didn't like what the mean little journalist said reflects poorly on you, Erdogan, not the journalist.

Bart M. : That German law [against defamation] stands for a reason. To accuse someone of perverted, pornographic, murderous, sexually associative practices has nothing to do with "encouraging dialogue." It is a pure insult.

Naser A.: I love you Erdogan, but don't behave like Arab leaders and put a muzzle on the mouths of the people. Let the people express themselves freely.

Hnmann S.: I am not a big supporter of Erdogan. But I cannot tolerate some comedian saying things like "He is having sex with goats and sheep" and " watching child porn." You may find it funny, and have the stomach for this, but it makes me vomit. What kind of sense of humor is this? If somebody calls you a pedophile, would you just laugh since he is a comedian?

Antonieta F.: Böhmermann should be hailed. Not prosecuted.

Bruno R. (Spain): Protecting any government official, national or foreigner, from criticism (even if in bad taste) is the first step towards a totalitarian government.

George R. (Uruguay-born, US): Only Charlie Hebdo can make jokes in Europe ?

Mario P. (US): I hope he's sued to the fullest for his defamatory statements. Personally attacking a person's character in public with lies to create a false image against a person for a particular political agenda is outright nasty and wicked. Even worse, you have arseholes calling hate speech a poem and trying to argue free speech.

Oliver S. (Germany): Erdogan wins, because German law foresees a punishment for something like this.

Mahir I.: Once you give your hand to evil, he will ask for your arm! Stay away from Erdogan!

Victor C. (US): Prosecuting and jailing your own citizens just because they are exercising their freedom of expression over another FOREIGN HEAD OF STATE???? That's what the world most powerful woman is planning to do? Just apologize to the sultan and drop the case against him. Problem solved.

Gunter M.: Even foreign politicians have entered the discussion. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has proclaimed his support for Böhmermann, despite having been the butt of his jokes many times in the past. An overwhelming majority of social media users in Germany support Böhmermann, so Merkel would indeed face domestic outrage should she agree to criminal proceedings.

Yaman A.: I don't believe that Merkel is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The judiciary in Germany is independent. Turkey, as an institutionally grounded state, would have understanding for the court's judgment, whatever it is.

"Stev60": Actually this so-called satirist goes too far, especially on public money … [T]he President of Turkey … (or rather his office) is entitled to a certain minimum of respect, or at least truthfulness of critique. Böhmermann's crude invective is simply beyond the pale of what is acceptable… Dressing it up as 'satire' does not render it immune to all limit or consequence.

"Lupis Terriblis": I know nothing better to fight fascism, fundamentalism, intolerance and human stupidity than humor. In fact, humorists and independent journalists are the first to be suppressed under authoritarian political regimes.

"Troll" (Germany): Good satire doesn't need insults or comments below the belt. It works through subtle hyperbole and doesn't need any blatant announcements beforehand. Böhmermann just made a mess of things in order to get attention. He now has that in abundance. The reaction of all the journalists now offers rich material for a satire. To the brave, rise up!

Chris: Ridiculous law to have in the first place. The fact the Turks feel that they have the right to whine about a bit of obvious satire proves that they are not ready to join the Western world and have no place in the EU.

"Rebel Soldier": DW in English, who are your readers? I have to ask. I live in the USA and here, every comedy skit dealing with foreign leaders is replete with bestiality jokes and everything else including the kitchen sink. The difference between the freedom of speech in Deutschland versus the USA sometimes astonishes me, but I've followed German news long enough to know you have an entirely different take on free speech. But to jail someone for making a joke?

Stefan H.: Satire has become all important again. Thank you, Mr. Erdogan!

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Rescuers work at the site of a train collision in Balasore district of eastern Indian state of Odisha
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage