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

Böhmermann ducks out of award ceremony

April 8, 2016

German satirist Jan Böhmermann will not personally pick up his award for lampooning the former Greek finance minister. He said "everything I believed in was shaken" by news that a new joke could land him in court.

Jan Böhmermann
Image: Imago/Star-Media

German late-night TV satirist Jan Böhmermann said on Friday that he would not attend the Grimme Prize ceremony, where he is was to collect an award for a series of shows in 2015 over whether former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave the middle finger to Germany.

"I feel shaken in everything that I ever believed," he wrote on Facebook, adding that he and his team hoped fans would understand why he would not be attending.

Böhmermann made headlines this week after reciting a poem during his "Neo Magazin Royale" show on public broadcaster ZDF that called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "pervert," and "zoohile" who has sex with goats, represses Kurds and watches child pornography.

The poem, broadcast March 31, followed a satirical song about Erdogan shown on NDR, another public broadcaster, that set off a diplomatic dispute that led to the Turkish government summoning the German ambassador and Chancellor Angela Merkel defending the freedom of expression guaranteed under German law.

Screenshot Jan Böhmermann in ZDF Neo Magazin Royale rezitiert Gedicht über Erdogan
Böhmermann's video has been removed from ZDF's archiveImage: ZDF Neo Magazin Royale

But the March 31 broadcast, which has since been removed from the ZDF archive, may have fun afoul of another German law that criminalizes insulting foreign institutions and representatives. Such an investigation could only be launched if Erdogan requests it and German authorities find enough evidence to pursue prosecution. Neither Erdogan nor the German Justice Ministry has commented on whether a request for investigation has been made and no charges have been filed.

In his most recent show, which broadcast on Thursday night, 35-year-old Böhmermann did not directly comment on the potential charges against him or reply to questions about Turkey from his guest, German talk show host Anne Will.

About 30 people protested outside ZDF's office in Istanbul, throwing eggs at the building, Turkish media reported. The "Sabah" newspaper, which belongs to a company tied to the president, published an opinion article calling Böhmermann a "bastard." "You're not a comedian, you're a rabble-rouser," the paper wrote.

sms/msh (dpa, AFP)