German Prosecutors to Erdogan: There’s a Difference Between an Insult and a Joke

German prosecutors are dropping Erdogan's attempt to prosecute a German comedian who insulted him.

(GERMANY OUT) NEO MAGAZINE with Jan Boehmer man, this is the new weekly, satirical show in ZDFneo. As of October 31, 2013, Thursday 23.00 clock.   (Photo by Spiegl/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) NEO MAGAZINE with Jan Boehmer man, this is the new weekly, satirical show in ZDFneo. As of October 31, 2013, Thursday 23.00 clock. (Photo by Spiegl/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) NEO MAGAZINE with Jan Boehmer man, this is the new weekly, satirical show in ZDFneo. As of October 31, 2013, Thursday 23.00 clock. (Photo by Spiegl/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

More than six months ago, German comedian Jan Boehmermann went on live TV and recited a poem in which he accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of having sex with a goat and watching child porn.

When Erdogan caught wind of Boehmermann’s performance, he hated everything about it. He hated it so much, in fact, that he tried to sue the German comedian under an obscure German law that makes it illegal for citizens to insult foreign heads of state.

In what was a quite unexpected twist, German Chancellor Angela Merkel honored his request and told German prosecutors to make a decision themselves. “[Merkel] served me up for tea,” Boehmermann said at the time.

More than six months ago, German comedian Jan Boehmermann went on live TV and recited a poem in which he accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of having sex with a goat and watching child porn.

When Erdogan caught wind of Boehmermann’s performance, he hated everything about it. He hated it so much, in fact, that he tried to sue the German comedian under an obscure German law that makes it illegal for citizens to insult foreign heads of state.

In what was a quite unexpected twist, German Chancellor Angela Merkel honored his request and told German prosecutors to make a decision themselves. “[Merkel] served me up for tea,” Boehmermann said at the time.

But now Boehmermann gets the last laugh. On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped the investigation into whether or not he had broken German law by insulting Erdogan, saying that “criminal actions could not be proven with the necessary certainty.”

They also said that it was “questionable” to accuse him of slander when he clearly read the poem with a satirical purpose. That basically translates as a hint to Erdogan should learn the difference between a joke and an insult.

Since Erdogan was elected president in 2014, Turkey has opened some 2,000 cases into alleged incidents where citizens insulted the controversial leader. In one of the most famous cases, a doctor was arrested and charged with insulting Erdogan for comparing him to the fictional character of Gollum from author J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.

And Erdogan is still lashing out at home, where a major purge has taken place since a July coup attempt rattled his hold on power. This week, an additional 13,000 police officers were dismissed, adding to the some 100,000 government workers who have lost their jobs in the aftermath of this summer’s political and military turmoil.

Spiegl/ullstein bild via Getty Images

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