Top German court rejects comedian’s appeal over restrictions on satirical Erdoğan poem

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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

Germany’s highest court has upheld a ban on large sections of a satirical poem that mocked Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Federal Court of Justice, the highest German court for civil and criminal law, on July 31 rejected an appeal by comedian Jan Bohmermann and upheld previous verdicts from a local court and a higher regional court in Hamburg.

Bohmermann sparked an uproar in 2016 with his controversial poem satirizing Turkey’s Erdoğan, whose lawyers filed a complaint against the comedian.

The Hamburg court ruled in 2017 that many passages in the poem breached the Turkish leader’s personal rights and prohibited the German comedian from repeating certain sections of the poem.

While underlining the significance of artistic freedom and freedom of expression, the court concluded that certain parts of Bohmermann’s work exceeded the limits of permissible criticism.

“According to the Federal Constitutional Court, artistic freedom is unconditional but not unbounded,” the court said in its ruling.

“Satire is protected under artistic freedom, but it can also affect the core area of protection of personality, and for this reason it can be prohibited,” it added.

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