On Tuesday, embattled German comedian Jan Boehmermann blasted German Chancellor Angela Merkel for acquiescing to Turkey’s demands to prosecute him under German libel laws.
The popular comic initiated a firestorm in Ankara when, during a television broadcast in March, he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "goatf**ker" who enjoyed child pornography.
Under German libel law, slandering the name of a foreign head of state in public is punishable by a one-year prison sentence, if deemed accidental, and five-years in prison if purposeful. The law provides German courts discretion over whether to authorize prosecution.
In the wake of the complaints, the German Chancellor called Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to convey her opinion that the statements were "deliberately insulting," and offered to prosecute the matter to the fullest extent of the law.
At the time, the European Union was nearing an agreement with the Turkish government regarding Syrian refugees. That arrangement, which advanced following assurances by Merkel, called for transporting 1 million European-based refugees to Turkey, in return for over $3 billion in cash and an acceleration of Turkey’s application for EU membership.
Boehmermann, who found himself a geopolitical casualty, alongside with the Western tradition of free speech, broke several weeks of silence in an interview with the weekly Die Zeit magazine.
"The Chancellor must not wobble when it’s a matter of freedom of opinion," said the comedian.
"But instead, she filleted me, served me for tea to a highly-strung despot and made me into a German Ai Weiwei," he said referring to the Chinese dissident artist.
Public support for Germany’s Merkel cascaded following the decision to prosecute Bohmermann under an obscure libel law, as members of her own governing coalition called for a reversal of the statute.
Despite being on the books, the law against insulting a foreign head of state has rarely been enforced, with German officials refusing to prosecute a resident who criticized former President Bush in 2003.
Bohmermann’s condemnatory opinion regarding the embattled Turkish president is widely confirmed among a German public who fault Erdogan for cracking down on journalistic dissent, engaging in arms and oil trade with Daesh, and undertaking a false-flag sarin gas attack against civilians in Syria in a bid to bait the West into another civil war in the Middle East.