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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel

    At a Crossroads: Merkel Torn Between Erdogan and German Public

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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has gotten herself in an even more uncomfortable situation by visiting Turkey after her mistake in handling of the Jan Bohmermann affair, Slate Magazine reported.

    It seems Merkel wanted to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, Merkel desperately wants to keep her relationship healthy with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; but on the other hand, she can't afford an outrage by the German public, the magazine said.

    "Erdogan's complaint put Merkel in a big embarrassing situation. If she rejected the demand of the Turkish president, she might have lost a key ally in controlling the flow of refugee to Europe. If she chose to agree [with Erdogan] she became an easy target for those blaming her for accommodating an authoritarian leader who repressing individual liberties and waging war against Kurds in his country," Slate Magazine said.

    On March 31, German political satirist Jan Bohmermann broadcast an explicit poem about Erdogan during his comedy show on German public broadcaster ZDF.

    Following the broadcast, in response to an official request from Turkey, Merkel said she would allow Erdogan to pursue a lawsuit in Germany against the satirist under a Wilhelmine-era law, which prohibits insulting foreign leaders.

    Merkel's move has caused a public outcry in Germany. The Green Party's co-chair Anton Hofreiter called Merkel's decision to allow a probe into Bohmermann's remarks about Erdogan a "political mistake," accusing Merkel of putting Erdogan before the interests of the German public and freedom of speech.

    Merkel ended up choosing the interests of Erdogan against the advice of the country's ministers of foreign affairs and justice.

    "Angela Merkel accepted Erdogan's request," Slate said.

    Merkel, however, said that the lawsuit against Bohmermann doesn't mean that he's guilty. The Chancellor added she'd tell Bundestag to work on repealing the old article in German criminal code, which Erdogan used.

    This attempt might be just a little too late and not enough to satisfy the German public, who cherishes the ideas of democracy and freedom of speech.

    Meanwhile, when it comes to freedom of speech, things in Turkey are getting worse. Prosecutors in Turkey have opened more than 1,800 cases against people for insulting Erdogan since he became president in 2014, the justice minister said last month. Those targeted include journalists, cartoonists and even children. Many EU lawmakers have responded with criticism on those measures.    

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    Tags:
    public discontent, satire, media freedom, freedom of speech, Jans Bohmermann, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Angela Merkel, Turkey, Germany
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