Merkel stresses freedom of art amid Turkish pressure over Erdoğan poem

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German chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined that her country is strongly committed to freedom of expression as well as freedom of art amid growing pressure from Turkey on Berlin to put a famous TV comedian on trial on charges of “insulting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a satirical poem he read during a recent show.

“I want to stress again what was stressed yesterday – we have the fundamental values in the constitution and that includes article 5, which is the freedom of opinion, freedom of science and of course the freedom of art,” the chancellor was quoted as saying by The Guardian, when asked about a complaint Erdoğan has filed against Jan Böhmermann on Monday.

“Art and these fundamental values are valid regardless of any political problems we discuss with each other – and that includes the refugee issue – and I think Turkey and the European Union and so also Germany have an interest in finding a political solution on it,” Merkel added.

The Turkish government on Monday issued a diplomatic note, asking the German Foreign Ministry to put Boehmermann, a comedian and a presenter on the ZDF public broadcaster in Germany, on trial on charges of “insulting a representative of a foreign state”

During his weekly show Neo Magazin Royal, Böhmermann read a poem which made crude sexual jokes about Turkey’s president.
A Mainz prosecutor last week said the office had received some 20 complaints from “private individuals” about Böhmermann’s poem, automatically triggering the opening of preliminary proceedings.

Merkel’s criticism came at a time when she is accused of turning a blind eye to rights violations in Turkey because Germany needs Turkey’s assistance to stop the flow of refugees to Europe.

In Turkey, there are hundreds of people including journalists, academics even teenagers who face charges of insulting the president due to their critical views about Erdoğan.

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