21:15 GMT +319 November 2019
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    A general view of a session of the Bundestag, the German lower house of parliament, in Berlin, Germany

    German Lawmaker Shocks Parliament by Reciting Poem Mocking Erdogan

    © REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch
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    Detlef Seif, a backbench member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, has caused a stir in Bundestag by reciting a satirical poem that mocked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as German MPs were debating the fate of the law that was invoked to prosecute the text's author.

    The politician hailing from North Rhine-Westphalia did not recite the explicit satirical poem to support its author, comedian Jan Boehmermann, but rather to show that the text was insulting and lacked satirical merit.

    "A person's honor is under attack here and the justice must decide if these statements are still covered by freedom of expression and press," Seif told fellow MPs, adding that he was not trying to defend Erdogan.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, accompanied by Turkish Forces' Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, left, reviews a honour guard Thursday Feb. 18, 2016
    © AP Photo / Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Press Service
    Yet other lawmakers did not think it was appropriate. Some gasped "unbelievable." Renate Künast of the Green Party called Seif's speech "embarrassing." Christian Flisek of the Social Democrats (SPD) observed that Seif could refrain from reciting the text in its entirety.

    "Keep in mind that we are in the German parliament, and that even with quotations one should not forget this fact," Edelgard Bulmahn, a cive president of the Bundestag, told Seif.

    The speech was broadcast live on national TV. The comedian uploaded Seif's speech to YouTube, turning the politician into an internet sensation. The footage has already been viewed more than 270,000 times. 

    The notorious poem has been at the heart of a diplomatic scandal between Germany and Turkey that has sparked an intense debate on the state of the freedom of speech in both countries.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks out of her car window as she arrives for an EU summit at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, March 7, 2016
    © AP Photo / Virginia Mayo
    The explicit satirical text was first recited on March 31. The Turkish president then demanded that Jan Boehmermann be sent to trial for insulting a foreign leader under a law (section 103 of the German criminal code).

    Angela Merkel gave the green light to the proceedings against the comedian, much to public discontent. She now wants to repeal the law.

    If found guilty, Boehmermann could spend up to three years in prison.

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    Tags:
    poem, freedom of speech, lawsuit, law, Bundestag, Jan Boehmermann, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany, Turkey
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