Joachim Gauck has said it's too early to do away with a controversial paragraph in the country's penal code. The law is at the center of an international scandal involving comedian Jan Böhmermann.
In an interview with German public broadcaster "Deutschlandfunk" to be aired on Sunday, Gauck weighed in on Paragraph 103 of the country's penal code, which has found itself at the center of a diplomatic crisis.
Last week, Angela Merkel's government granted Turkey's request to go forward with the possible prosecution of Böhmermann, a TV comedian who enraged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he read aloud a crude poem about the Turkish leader.
Paragraph 103 protects foreign heads of state from such insults and was evoked by Berlin as justification for taking the proceedings forward. Nonetheless, Merkel has drawn heavy criticism for the move, leading many to call for the law to be abolished.
Hold off on changes, says Gauck
Gauck, however, said such a move would be "a little rash," saying that such decisions require a period of reflection and consideration.
The German government did introduce a bill that would allow for the erasure of the clause. However, Berlin will first allow legal proceedings against Böhmermann to continue.
The controversy has also provoked responses from outside of Germany. "The Spectator," a British magazine, has announced a contest called "Insult Turkey's Erdogan," in which the winner will receive a prize for the most offensive poem directed at the president.
In the Netherlands, the cabinet has provisionally approved the abolition of its "lese majeste" law, with Justice Minister Ard van der Steuer on Friday calling the rule outdated.
ls, blc/jil (KNA, dpa)