German MP reads out controversial Erdogan poem in parliament

12th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

A lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel's party on Thursday read out in parliament a crude satirical poem about Turkey's president, which had been at the heart of a free speech row.

Seeking to condemn the content of the poem that accused Recep Tayyip Erdogan of bestiality and paedophilia, Christian Democrat MP Detlef Seif recited key parts of the text by German TV comedian Jan Boehmermann.

"A person's honour is under attack here and the justice must decide if these statements are still covered by freedom of expression and press," Seif told parliament.

"But put yourselves in the shoes of Erdogan and think about it, how would you take it?" he said, in a speech that was broadcast on television and can be viewed on German parliament's website.

Boehmermann's recital of his so-called "Defamatory Poem" on national television in late March sparked a diplomatic firestorm and a row over free speech.

In a controversial move, Chancellor Angela Merkel authorised criminal proceedings against the comedian after Turkey requested he be prosecuted under the lese majeste law over his "smear poem."

During the broadcast Boehmermann gleefully admitted his poem flouted Germany's legal limits to free speech and was intended as a provocation.

"I ask that the parliamentary immunity of CDU MP Detlef Seif be lifted for prosecution under article 103 of the penal code," wrote Boehmermann on Twitter.

Boehmermann is due to make his first TV appearance since the uproar later on Thursday.

Merkel has come in for criticism for authorising possible criminal proceedings against Boehmermann.

Although she defended the decision as a "fair" reaction, she expressed regret that her spokesman Steffen Seibert had said she viewed the poem as "deliberately insulting" in the chancellery's first official reaction to the row.

"With hindsight, it was an error," Merkel told regional officials meeting in Berlin, adding that the remark could have given the impression that "freedom of opinion is not important, that freedom of the press is not important".

© 2016 AFP

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