Germany revokes ‘lese majeste’ law after Erdoğan’s attempt to have satirist indicted

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(FILES) This combo of file photos created on April 15, 2016 shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L, in Lima on February 2, 2016) and German TV comedian Jan Böhmermann (on February 22, 2012 in Berlin). German prosecutors said on October 4, 2016 they have scrapped an investigation into comedian Jan Boehmermann for allegedly insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after failing to find evidence to back up the claim. / AFP PHOTO / dpa AND AFP PHOTO / Britta PEDERSEN AND SEBASTIAN CASTAÑEDA / Germany OUT

The German Bundestag on Friday revoked a law protecting heads of state and government from insults that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invoked in an attempt to have a prominent German satirist indicted last year, Deutsche Welle has reported.

The decision of the Bundestag to scrap Germany’s archaic lese majeste law, which criminalized insults directed at foreign heads of state and government, will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

In spring of 2016, the Turkish government had officially asked German authorities to put Jan Böhmermann, a comedian and presenter on Germany’s public broadcaster ZDF, on trial on charges of “insulting” Erdoğan in a satirical poem he read during a show.

During his weekly show “Neo Magazin Royal,” aired in March 2016, Böhmermann read a poem that made crude sexual jokes about Turkey’s president.

However, the satirist made clear that the poem’s intention was to show the difference between legitimate criticism and genuine insults, a satirical response to the thousands of “lese majeste” cases the Turkish president was pursuing in Turkey and abroad.

After Erdoğan asked the German government to authorize an investigation into Böhmermann, Chancellor Angela Merkel approved the request. However, prosecutors ultimately dropped the case in November last year, saying there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

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