Satirical German song about Erdogan upsets Turkey

Turkey summons German ambassador over song insulting to President Erdogan that was broadcast on a German satirical show.

Ben Ariel ,

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey is upset over a song deemed insulting to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that was broadcast on a German public television satirical show, AFP reported Tuesday.

The song has sparked a diplomatic spat between Berlin and Ankara, sources on both sides said.

The saga began last week, when Turkey summoned Germany's ambassador to protest the two-minute clip entitled "Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan", which is seen as ridiculing the president, his alleged extravagant spending and crackdown on civil liberties.

The song is set to the tune of German pop star Nena's 1984 love song "Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann" (Anyhow, Anywhere, Anytime) and was screened on regional broadcaster NDR's "extra 3" show on March 17, according to AFP.

The German-language lyrics charge, among other things, that "a journalist who writes something that Erdogan doesn't like/ Is tomorrow already in jail".

A Turkish diplomatic source told AFP on Tuesday, "We summoned the ambassador last week to communicate our protest about the broadcast that we condemned.”

"We demanded that the broadcast be removed from the air," the source added.

A German diplomatic source confirmed Tuesday that Ambassador Martin Erdmann had held repeated talks with the Turkish foreign ministry over the song.

"In these talks he made clear that the rule of law, judicial independence and the protection of fundamental freedoms, including of the press and of expression, are valuable assets that should be jointly protected," said the German source.

Erdmann had stressed that "in Germany, political satire is covered by the freedom of the press and of expression and the government has neither the need for, nor the option of, taking action."

Erdogan is notorious for muzzling media that is critical of him as well as lawmakers, academics, lawyers and NGOs – but he usually does this in his own country.

In November, for example, a court in Istanbul charged two journalists from the opposition Cumhuriyet daily with spying after they alleged Turkey's secret services had sent arms to Islamist rebels in Syria.

A year earlier, Turkish police earlier raided media outlets close to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan accuses of forming a 'parallel state' to undermine his rule and orchestrating a graft scandal targeting his inner circle.

When the European Union (EU) criticized Erdogan over the raids, he responded by saying EU leaders should try to find a solution for the increasing Islamophobia in Europe instead of criticizing Turkey.

In the past, Erdogan has also threatened to ban websites such as YouTube and Facebook when those websites leaked recordings in which Erdogan and his son allegedly discuss how to hide vast sums of money.

Erdogan's lawyers have filed hundreds of lawsuits over "insults" since he became president in August 2014, with those sued including schoolchildren, journalists, and opposition politicians.

Last December a Turkish court formed a council of "experts" to determine if a doctor who compared Erdogan to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings had insulted him and should be jailed - the doctor had already been expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey (THSK).

A 17-year-old teen was charged last December with "insulting" Erdogan on Facebook, and in January, a Turkish philosophy professor was accused of insulting Erdogan in an article in which he accused the president of corruption and violating the constitution. The professor said he was not giving an insult, but that Erdogan is "unable to distinguish strong criticism from an insult."

Even the former Miss Turkey has been unable to escape the Turkish president, and was last year prosecuted for social media posts deemed to be critical of Erdogan.