German satirical TV show hits back at Turkey's Erdogan

31st March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A German satirical TV show that sparked a diplomatic row with Turkey over media freedom has fired another salvo by re-broadcasting a song lampooning President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- with Turkish subtitles.

"Perhaps Erdogan didn't understand the piece," presenter Christian Ehring said of the tune "Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan" that ridicules the president, his alleged extravagant spending and crackdown on civil liberties.

"So here it is again, this time with Turkish subtitles," Ehring said in Wednesday night's screening of the "extra 3" programme on regional public broadcaster NDR, hailing Erdogan as Turkey's "greatest comedian".

Ankara last week called in the German ambassador to protest at the song and demanded it be pulled off the air.

The spiralling controversy has made the two-minute clip a YouTube hit viewed millions of times.

Ehring quipped that if Erdogan, the show's new "employee of the month", wanted to hear critical views, he should watch "extra 3", and that "if he doesn't want criticism, he better meet the chancellor" Angela Merkel.

Merkel's government has drawn fire over its delayed public response to the spat and its reluctance to directly criticise Erdogan, with the EU relying on Turkey to limit the flow of migrants to Europe.

Merkel's spokeswoman said Wednesday that Berlin's ambassador to Ankara had made clear to his Turkish counterparts that values such as freedom of expression "are non-negotiable".

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added that "we should be able to expect a partner country of the European Union to share our values".

But the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that initially the government had "remained lost for words before the chancellery and foreign ministry recognised that they couldn't just stay silent on the latest scandal sparked by Turkish president Erdogan".

It charged that "the government reluctantly followed up on what it should have made clear from the very beginning".

Erdogan's government has been accused of increasing authoritarianism and muzzling critical media as well as lawmakers, academics, lawyers and NGOs.

The satirical song -- set to the tune of German pop star Nena's 1984 love song "Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann" (Anyhow, Anywhere, Anytime) -- charges, among other things, that "a journalist who writes something that Erdogan doesn't like/ Will be in jail by tomorrow".

The EU, faced with a huge influx of refugees from Syria, two weeks ago agreed a deal under which Ankara will take back all migrants landing on the Greek islands in exchange for concessions including financial aid and a pledge to speed up Turkey's EU membership bid.

But the deal has sparked criticism that the 28-nation bloc sold out its principles in a desperate bid for Ankara's help, especially after a crackdown on media that oppose Erdogan.

© 2016 AFP

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