By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Free speech rights in Germany took another worrying turn for the worse when German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally approved an investigation of a German citizen accused of insulting Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, a world leader personally responsible for the erosion of free speech in this NATO member state.
The timing and enthusiasm, despite proffers to the contrary, of the German government’s persecution of satirist Jan Böhmermann for his broadcast of a poem critical of President Erdoğan coincides directly with the German Government trying to reach a re-settlement agreement with Turkey to address the refugee crisis besieging many European nations–a situation politically damaging to Merkel’s image.
We featured numerous articles relating to President Erdoğan’s attacks on newspapers, individuals, internationals, and any critics of him who are within reach of this grasp, citing a bizarre form of Lèse majesté laws as justification. Now, Merkel is demonstrating a willingness to use a rather dusty remnant of such a statute in Germany as a tool to preserve the ego of a foreign head of state, to accomplish a domestic political goal.
For his part, Mr Böhmermann risks five years incarceration for the act of reciting poetry. In several day’s time, he became a convenient scapegoat to placate a foreign leader bent on resurrecting a Neo-Ottoman-Empire, with Erdoğan as its sultan.
Evidence of why the Federal Government prosecuted Mr. Böhrmann could be found in the foreign official cited in the poem. I suspect the German government has a very short list of persons prosecuted under its Lèse majesté statutes and that suspects are cherry picked based on their profile and geopolitics
It is also a telling sign that such a prosecution is instigated for political reasons when national level politicians personally involve themselves in minor local criminal matters alleged against ordinary citizens. In this case, why would a German Chancellor, and her supporting political party have any interest in a poet’s recitals?
Ordinary people, cast by their governments into jail for political purposes, this is not a quality indicative of a democratic nation; unless of course it is democratic in name only, such as was the case with the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Certainly Chancellor Merkel is familiar with free speech restrictions she resided there prior to unification.
Surely after all the chaos injected into the lives of these citizens, if they are not imprisoned and forgotten in time, they will instead find “justice” and be permitted the opportunity to return to being free men as if it was some form of gift from their former accusers.
During the plight of this unfortunate poet, I could not help but be reminded of George Witten’s book “Scapegoats of the Empire”, a novel characterizing he and his cohort Australian soldiers serving her majesty in the Boer Wars of the Early 1900’s. They were placed on trial for murder and largely handed their fates by a court to placate the empire’s enemies and absolve their government’s sometimes barbarous treatment of civilians and other combatants.
In the film adaption, titled “Breaker Morant”, Lord Kitchener, commander of British forces in the theater, discusses with his adjutant Colonel Hamilton how the adjudication of these soldiers must proceed:
Lord Kitchener: Good God Johnny I am not trying to prove a point. I’m trying to put and end to this useless war. The Boer leaders must see this court martial as a demonstration of our impartial justice. If these three Austrailians had to be–sacrificed–to help bring about a peace conference, small price to pay?
Col. Ian ‘Johnny’ Hamilton: I quite agree sir, though I doubt the Australians share our enthusiasm.
In the film, the extinguishment of the lives of two soldiers was partly addressed to the Germans. They served as scapegoats for the sins of the politicians and gifts to foreign kings. The irony today is that now it is the Germans who seek to sacrifice a citizen or two to entreat a foreign leader who endeavors to be a king, or sultan if you will.
But if that wasn’t enough to demonstrate an irony, the same German leadership and her rubberstamp political party also declared their belief that these Lèse majesté statutes should be repealed as relics of the past. Perhaps irony is not the proper word. It is better defined as reprehensible.
Deutsche Welle had an interesting article describing the predicament nicely:
Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a member of the SPD, said the decision on whether or not Böhmermann’s poem was satire or defamation is entirely up to the courts.
“The question of whether Böhmermann’s comments were satire or defamation will be decided nevertheless by the courts in accordance with the law and independent of whether the request for prosecution is granted or not,” Maas told reporters.
Maas also confirmed Merkel’s desire to do away with Germany’s antiquated defamation law at the heart of the case. He tweeted: “We want to abolish Paragraph 103. Special provisions for insulting foreign heads of state have fallen behind the times.”
The law should be repealed as antiquated but nevertheless it is useful it seams to Ms. Merkel and her political party. Hypocrites.
A greater strength would have been to respect that this poet has civil rights and let the chips fall where they may. Unfortunately the Merkel government has gone down the path of least resistance for which it is now committed. Unfortunately, the best outcome would be for Jan Böhmermann to undergo his “investigation”, pass through some kangaroo court of Merkel’s creation, and ultimately forced to go to the European Court of Human Rights to restore him to where he was a month ago. The ECHR will declare the German statute invalid, and the German government can absolve themselves of their responsibility by then telling Erdoğan they did everything possible to respect and entreat him.
Maybe in her next state visit to Turkey, Erdoğan will award her the Imtiyaz Medal.
By Darren Smith
Source: Deutsche Welle
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility
47 thoughts on “Scapegoats Of The Ottoman Empire: Merkel Sacrifices German Satirist To Placate Turkey’s Erdoğan”
Old habits are tough to break. Ah, the good old East German days.
Independent Bob – She has Putin as an example.
Scapegoats Of The Ottoman Empire: Merkel Sacrifices German Satirist To Placate Turkey’s Erdoğan
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a disgrace.
Does Frau Merkel represent Germany or the Sultan of Tyranny Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan?
Reblogged this on Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world and commented:
Sir, great article, thank you for posting it for the rest of us to get to read.
The Turks created a desert wasteland, sparsely populated.
The Jews created an Eden with the best employment, education for all – Jew and Muslim alike, infrastructure, electricity, safe drinking water, equal rights for women (the horrors!) and homosexuals (who are not thrown off of buildings or beheaded like in other parts of the ME)…And the ME cannot stand it I wonder if it’s the equal rights for women or the existence of another faith that chaps their hide the most.
It’s not really a tough call for me to decide whom to support. Hmmm…do I support regimes who murder gay and stone women rape victims, or the only country in the ME with Western values, equal rights for women, and really awesome airport security….Tough one…Let me think about it…
Israel! They have the added benefit that they are not creating extremist terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram and Al Qaeda who go around raping, pillaging, and blowing up women and children. So win/win!
“With all that you know, and as smart as you are about western capitalism, have you ever known a western nation to be as magnanimous as you apparently purport Great Britain to have been in handing over Palestine to a “Jewish diaspora”?”
Did you just call me a Smarty McSmartpants?
And one is to recall that Palestine was not a country, but a region, and part of the iron fisted rule of the Ottoman Empire. The original “Philistines” were sea faring people who got wiped out thousands of years ago. The Romans named the region “Palestine” after the Philistines, after massacring the Jews and chasing the survivors out of their homeland of Judea. Muslim Palestine is now modern day Jordan. Jewish land is now Israel. The Turks wrecked the landscape, cutting down virtually every tree. There is a saying that every tree was planted by the British, who were trying to clean up the mess. Arab “Palestinians” are not one people, but rather descendants of Arabs from all over the ME. As anyone who has read pretty much anything about the situation in the ME, Muslims are violently intolerant of other faiths in the entire continent. The few non-Muslims allowed to live there are given third class status (behind second class Muslim women) and routinely abused by the system. And they passionately hate the existence of Israel. Seriously, they cannot allow another faith to have 2 square inches to call their own in the ME, let alone an entire country.
I think the Jews deserve their homeland just as the Muslims deserve their Mecca. Why allow the Jews to be persecuted and abused and driven out of the ME (like in Saudi Arabia where they are not allowed to set foot?)
Smarty: Here’s a really enlightening article by Charles Freeman, Jr., former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia during 41’s Desert Storm and a former Nixon aide. So, he’s one of yours. I hope you’ll read it.
The article briefly traces American empire-building which transitions to what he terms as post-WWII spheres of influence, the Soviet Union on one side and the US on the other. Here’s a snippet:
“Unfortunately, as the moronic Islamophobia that has characterized the so-called debates between presidential candidates illustrates, there is at present no comparable trend toward realism in our approach to Muslim terrorism. We need to face up to the fact that U.S. interventions and other coercive measures have killed as many as two million Muslims in recent decades. One does not need an elaborate review of the history of European Christian and Jewish colonialism in the Middle East or American collusion with both to understand the sources of Arab rage or the zeal of some Muslims for revenge. Reciprocating Islamist murderousness with our own is no way to end terrorist violence.
“Twenty-two percent of the world’s people are Muslim. Allowing bombing campaigns and drone warfare to define our relationship with them is a recipe for endless terrorist backlash against us. In the Middle East, the United States is now locked in a death-filled dance with fanatic enemies, ungrateful client states, alienated allies, and resurgent adversaries. Terrorists are over here because we are over there. We’d be better off standing down from our efforts to sort out the problems of the Islamic world. Muslims are more likely to be able to cure their own ills than we are to do this for them.”
steve – from one of your own.
Charles Freeman’s Failed Nomination as an Obama Aide.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
FORMER ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. looked like a poor choice to chair the Obama administration’s National Intelligence Council. A former envoy to Saudi Arabia and China, he suffered from an extreme case of clientitis on both accounts. In addition to chiding Beijing for not crushing the Tiananmen Square democracy protests sooner and offering sycophantic paeans to Saudi King “Abdullah the Great,” Mr. Freeman headed a Saudi-funded Middle East advocacy group in Washington and served on the advisory board of a state-owned Chinese oil company. It was only reasonable to ask — as numerous members of Congress had begun to do — whether such an actor was the right person to oversee the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates
Paul: Freeman was or has always been a political conservative, but what he wrote in the article I posted appears accurate to me. Your post appears to imply that because he was a Saudi lobbyist and not hired by Obama, his view of US imperialism and what’s happened and why it’s happened over the past two decades are at odds. It’s a non-sequitur.
steve – there is no evidence that Freeman was ever a conservative. He withdrew his name from consideration because it had been leaked in advance and even Nancy Pelosi thought he was suspect.
“started the Iraq War”
Actually, Saddam started the Iraq War in 1990-1991. Then in his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions in 2002-2003, Saddam triggered enforcement again with material breach across the board of the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), including and especially the (WMD) disarmament, terrorism, and humanitarian Gulf War ceasefire mandates.
The choice was Saddam’s. He could have switched off enforcement simply by providing the required “full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions” (UNSCR 1441), which Saddam had agreed to provide in 1991 as the condition for suspending the Gulf War short of regime change. In fact, Saddam should have fulfilled his ceasefire obligations in 1991-1992, let alone in his “final opportunity to comply” in 2002-2003. Instead, Saddam decided to remain in material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire and resume the Gulf War, instead.
On the law and the facts, the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom was correct – see explanation.
There was an interesting angle to the diaspora and the government of Cromwell. When Cromwell became Lord Protector Jews were not allowed to live in England. Cromwell realized what the Jews who had fled to the Netherlands had contributed to the wealth of that nation. He was searching for a legal justification for admitting Jews to England. He wrote about this to the Dutch Jewish philosopher Manasseh Ben Israel. Manasseh gave him essentially the following advice. We know that Christians want all of us Jews to return to the Holy Land. Our traditions and history demand that we must first be present in every country on Earth at the same time. Hence as long as we cannot live in England we cannot go all back to the Holy Land. Jews were allowed to live in England when Cromwell’s son ruled.
I think it is a bit much, or an exaggeration, to call Britain, “Great Britain”. I would like to just refer to the place as England.
Well, that’s possibly true, but on the issue of whether it’s legitimate to investigate or prosecute him I can’t come down on any side, knowing free speech laws in Europe are stricter and not knowing what he said. The EU had passed legislation making holocaust denial illegal, leaving the decision to prosecute up to individual members, so Europe isn’t really a bastion of free speech to begin.
The law was known well enough that he commented about breaking it before reading the poem
@Elmer Fudd. You’re supposed to say “cut off their genitals” like you usually do.
joshzzzz – some think that his opening statement makes it satire against the German government and he is protected.
Paul, if she had the right NOT to sign off she should have refused. I’m tired of people who run for office that hide behind procedures to avoid responsibility.
Justice Holmes – basically what she did was kick the can to the prosecutors’ office. Like Pontius Pilate, she has washed her hands of the matter.
What the h ell is the ‘extinguishemt’?
He did seem to break a law, regardless of when it was written. Now, never using the law is a defense. However, a little used law is not a defense. And the date when the law was written is not a defense. I am sure NYC has laws going back that far.
He is the third person to have the law used against them this century. The other two did time. Merkle is only one of the many steps in this law. She and a couple of others have to sign off before the prosecution can look at the case. This may not be prosecuted.
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