Scapegoats Of The Ottoman Empire: Merkel Sacrifices German Satirist To Placate Turkey’s Erdoğan

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

220px-Angela_Merkel_(2008)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”

  1. Kare S. Exactly except Bush isn’t a budding Mulsim theocrat. Remember there are just some groups of people who cannot be offended or criticized.

  2. Steve:

    The creation of Israel was the West’s solution to the Jewish diaspora.

    Jews were persecuted everywhere they went. Sadly, they were also discriminated against here.

    We helped return their homeland to them. Israel is the only country in the ME where women have equal rights, apostasy and homosexuality are not capital crimes, and education among Jews and non Jews is the highest. There are more Arab schools per capita than anywhere else in the ME.

    Most importantly, they are a true ally in the ME. They are also the only pro Western government. Sure, the Saudis are fair weather friends to us, good customers of OPEC. But anti Western sentiment is rife. And then there is their long list of human rights abuses, like not allowing a Jew to set foot in the country.

    So, no, we won’t be cutting our friends loose anytime soon to pander to its neighbors that want to destroy it and chant “death to Israel!”

    It’s always seemed strange to me when liberals take the side of nations who stone women, won’t let them drive, and in some cases mutilate their lady parts over Israel, the only nation there with Western values and freedoms.

    1. Karen writes, “The creation of Israel was the West’s solution to the Jewish diaspora.”

      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”?

      Could Britain, weak as it was after WWII in terms of maintaining empire, have had an ulterior motive and spun its succession as a humanitarian mission?

      Enquiring minds.

  3. The relevant point is that this law is rarely applied. That’s why it’s “dusty.”

    Otherwise every comedian and satirist who ever breathed a criticism of a foreign leader (like Bush) would be in jail.

  4. Karen S: If imperial capitalists from the West hadn’t inserted and supported the State of Israel in the first place, hadn’t started the Iraq War, and hadn’t supported insurrection in Syria, let alone after reducing to rubble the entire Muslim rim of the Mediterranean, then there wouldn’t have been cause for exodus.

    Of course this was all a conservative humanitarian endeavor. Right?

  5. German prime ministers take an oath of office to uphold the law, which is why I’d like to know if the poem seems defamatory or likely to incite violence, two caveats in Germany’s free speech laws.

  6. Apparently before reading it he said he “knew it was verboten under German law” so I’m not sure why Merkel would defend someone knowingly committing a crime. Her duty would seem to be the opposite.

    1. I find it hard to believe that the German Constitution doesn’t protect free speech. The ruling oligarchs will always come up with caveats to protect their interests and/pr their ability to usurp the rights of the majority. Why do you think government is so important to them and individual rights no so much?

  7. There once was a thug from Turkey…

    What difference does the actual poem make?
    Who cares if it is defamatory?

    You either support free speech, or you do not.
    Current campus leftists, Twitter, and Facebook, for example, do not.

    The Soviets, Maoists and East Germans frequently jailed dissenters and artists for their writings.
    Murkel clearly never expunged that behavior from her past.

  8. Does anyone have a link to the actual poem, I can find articles about this but not with the poem itself? It would be nice to know what they’re considering defamatory.

  9. All who value the separation of the executive from the judiciary branch of government ought to stop criticizing Ms. Merkel. If she had nixed the stupid pending trial she would in our nation have been correctly accused of meddling in a legal process.

    1. Dieter, The Judiciary has generally been a rubber stamp for the legislature and/or administration so your point is really kind of moot. This is what one would expect in a fascist oligarchy, as both American is now and Germany has again become. Talk to Snowden about this issue.

  10. It appears that when the majority keeps allowing the ruling oligarchy within their society to constantly and continuously usurp the individual property rights of the majority, they will someday awaken imprisoned when they simply write a poem, notifying others of their concerns. A close friend once commented that when you allow the usurpation of one right, it appears historically that it has opened the door for other rights to be usurped.

    The question is; should we protect individuals rights only when “society” deems they should be protected or is it an all or none proposition? Can you trust the nation state to protect our rights? Like I have commented several times, not many can name any of the rights covered by the IXth Amendment. Very sad, that so many people risked their lives, liberty and fortunes battling the usurpers and creating a nation state based on the protection of individuals rights and not 1 in 100 truly appear to understand the core principles of the foundation of our rule of law.

    When are the majority going to understand this all important rationale of the need for protecting all of our individual rights?

  11. Not sure if your assessment of mrs Merkel sacrifying the man is correct. It seems that there is a German law about the matter in question and her point is that the consequences in such a case are not determined by the political powers but by the law, applied by an independent judge. Such in contrast, she seems to imply, to Turkey. A point well made, I think, so I’m at a loss what else she could have decided than allow the judicial system take its course. That leaves the Rule of Law intact, while still allowing a prosecutor to dismiss the complaint or a judge to apply a symbolical punishment.

  12. A more appropriate solution to the refugee crisis would be to render Syria inhabitable to its own people, many of whom would prefer to remain.

    Then allow the careful vetting and immigration of the relatively tiny fraction of asylum seekers – the critics of government, abused women, apostates, and others whom our values embrace. We want to be a refuge for the abused, not those who persecute them.

  13. Merkel has fallen into the trap of liberalism.

    In an effort to appear tolerant, she let in too many refugees, ostensibly from a nation infamous for terrorism, misogyny, and human rights violations. Since many refugees abandoned their documents, actually determining country of origin is problematic.

    The entirely predictable result has been an increase in crime, the public abuse and harassment of women (which was quite accepted in Syria), and the infiltration of terrorists into Europe. (See Brussels).

    If you told a crowd who had just, for example, thrown a couple of gay men off a building, that they were all free to immigrate en mass, one would expect a rise in hate crimes against LGBT.

    Too high a number renders assimilation more difficult, which is critical when the country of origin does not share Western values on rights and law.

    Inexplicably, liberals condemn caution against the immigration of people from a region known for abuse of women, the murder of gays, and violence against apostates.

    So now she sacrificed her own citizen, whom she is supposed to represent, in a desperate bid to find a solution to an immigration problem she created.

    So beware, liberals, of empowering your government, sacrificing individual rights to the collective, and the rise of an uber presidency. As history has proven, the result will always be the same.

    But, again, liberals inexplicably seek to raise government models that have become dictatorships time and again, such as socialism and communism. Academics who should know better preach the virtue of such systems, which are among the worst polluters and abusive of their citizens.

  14. “Convergence”. That term was used by a political theorist and historian of American lineage back in the 1950s or so. The term was employed to denote how the West was getting more socialist and anti civil libertarian and the East (Soviet Union, Red China) was becoming more capitalist and self interest rather than social welfare motivated. Merkel is the product of convergence. She grew up in East Germany and lived with some of the right wing old nazi tactics coupled with the Soviet style oppression of human rights. Whew n the Wall came down the Nazi era did not die. For that matter, the Nazi era lived on after WWII when the Soviets took over. Once some dork like Merkel gets in power they see things only in their own personal interest or that of their government’s.

    Merkel avoids getting to Nazi like in her dealing with the Muslim terrorists who come into the country each day. We are about to see the new version of Nazi oppression. The Germans are not going to stand for Paris and Brussels bombings. The Germans are good at rounding up Gypsies and Jews and it will not be difficult for Germans to round up the Muslims. It is all coming to a theatre near you. Don’t take your cell phone with you. It is bad manners. Read the book: The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich. The Fourth Reich is coming. It just took awhile. Blame it on Truman.

  15. The NYT reports that: Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And what is Obama doing, he is rushing to Riyadh to assure the Saudis it won’t happen. The West has become craven and weak. It’s disgusting. I hope Mrelkle is forced to resign and that Congress passes the 9/11 bill immediately.

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