The Erdogan Insult Mess: Dutch Reporter, German Politician Arrested For Mocking Erdogan; Swiss Art Exhibit Targeted Too

from the if-you-can't-take-criticism,-get-out-of-politics dept

The insanity around Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his insanely thin skin is getting worse. As we’ve discussed, Erdogan has been going crazy suing anyone in Turkey who he claims insults him (over 1800 cases in just 18 months). And he’s tried to take things internationally as well. Even when visiting the US, his team tried to silence the press. And then he whined about a song on a German TV station mocking him. That resulted in a German comic writing some more direct insults, and Erdogan somehow discovering a nearly forgotten German law that allows for criminal cases against anyone who insults a foreign leader.

People are completely up in arms over the fact that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the political choice and gave in to Erdogan’s request, allowing the comedian, Jan Bohmermann, to face charges that could land him in jail. Merkel, the pundits claimed, “needed” to do this because she needs Erdogan’s support in dealing with the refugee crisis going on right now. The one bone she threw to critics was that the law in question should be changed — a process that is moving forward rapidly.

Of course, all this has really done is increase attention to all of this (gee… doesn’t that sound familiar?) and create more people mocking Erdogan and his thin skin. Bruno Kramm, the head of the German Pirate Party, went to the Turkish Embassy in Berlin and conducted a “literary analysis” of Bohmermann’s satirical (if over the top) poem — leading to Kramm being taken into custody by the police.

Meanwhile Erdogan’s assault on free speech in Europe is spreading. The Turkish consulate in Rotterdam has apparently been urging Turkish nationals to send in reports of any insults directed at Erdogan. That comes right after the Netherlands realized that it has a similar law to Germany’s and decided that it should probably get rid of it too:

The Turkish consulate in Rotterdam has urged Turkish nationals to report examples of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan being insulted and denigrating comments made about Turks in general, Dutch media say on Thursday afternoon.

Various Turkish organisations in the Netherlands have been emailed by the consulate, urging them to make a note of the insults. The call comes a day after the Dutch government said it would scrap legislation which makes insulting a friendly head of state a criminal offence.

And, it appears, the Turkish authorities are not messing around. Just as all of this was happening, Turkish police arrested a Dutch journalist, Ebru Umar, who was vacationing in Turkey, but who had just written a column critical of Erdogan (and had criticized Erdogan’s supporters on Twitter). If Erdogan thinks this will actually suppress criticism, it appears he may have miscalculated. The biggest newspaper in the Netherlands released Monday’s paper with a giant caricature of Erdogan as an ape crushing free speech:

And, that’s not all. The Turkish consulate in Switzerland has filed an official complaint about an art exhibit in Geneva because, it turns out, Switzerland has a law like Germany and the Netherlands. It’s quite amazing how Erdogan became such an expert on these laws in Europe so quickly…

The Genevan authorities have confirmed that they have received a complaint from the Turkish consulate to Switzerland. Just like Germany, Swiss law contains a clause prohibiting insults towards foreign leaders.

The offending photograph is part of an exhibition from photographer Demir Sonmez. The photo in question shows a protest in Istanbul in which a banner proclaims that Erdogan was responsible for the death of a teenager.

Thankfully, it does not appear Erdogan has discovered a similar such law over in the UK, where The Spectator has launched a contest asking for the most offensive and insulting poetry about Erdogan. The prize is £1,000 (and, I assume, a lifetime ban from visiting Turkey).

Meanwhile, back in Turkey, a court in Istanbul has told the editor-in-chief of a local publication, Cumhuriyet, that he must pay approximately $10,000 for “insulting public figures” because the publications released some details on a probe into corruption. But the guy, Can Dundar, is still facing other charges around “espionage, attempting to overthrow the government, and revealing state secrets.” He may be sentenced to life in prison for that. So, yeah, as amusing as this is from miles away, actual people doing basic things like reporting on facts are facing their entire lives being destroyed.

In the end, a quote from a Turkish expat, Orhan Selim Bayraktar, living in the Netherlands and working for the main opposition party to Erdogan’s made the most sense — asking why someone so thin-skinned is in politics at all. As Bayraktar told Sputnik News:

“If the president does not want to be criticized and insulted, he should leave the political arena. Because for me, as a politician, it’s obvious that if you choose to enter politics, you will have enemies who will insult you, and friends who praise you. If you cannot get used to this, you have no business being in politics. The Turkish president should abandon the persecution of his own citizens. He must serve as the guarantor of our freedoms, instead of assisting in their limitation.”

Seems like common sense. But there’s apparently no room for that in Turkey.

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Comments on “The Erdogan Insult Mess: Dutch Reporter, German Politician Arrested For Mocking Erdogan; Swiss Art Exhibit Targeted Too”

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49 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Looking at it backwards

In the end, a quote from a Turkish expat, Orhan Selim Bayraktar, living in the Netherlands and working for the main opposition party to Erdogan’s made the most sense — asking why someone so thin-skinned is in politics at all. As Bayraktar told Sputnik News:

I’d actually say that the thin-skinned nature of the putz is directly linked to his political position and fits it perfectly. After all if you just cannot handle people being ‘mean’ to you, what better job to hold than one that makes it illegal to say anything bad about you? Having Gollum’s stunt double in politics may be crap for everyone else but it’s great for him, as it allows him to threaten and punish anyone who is critical of him, something which is apparently vital to his pathetic joke of an ego.

Oblate (profile) says:

The call comes a day after the Dutch government said it would scrap legislation which makes insulting a friendly head of state a criminal offence.

Why is this law applicable? Erdogan certainly doesn’t seem very friendly.

I’d say more about what he does seem like, but it would be at risk of a lifetime visit to a Turkish prison (and I’m not into that) or paying a price of £1,000 (also not into that).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You have to look at the whole story.
A week or so before this the song about Erdogan was released and criticized.

His whole act was about pointing out how far satire can go and that the song was within those boundaries.

To do this he started by saying something like “this would go to far” and during the text he and others added “that is something we can’t say”. So the poem wasn’t intended to be true, it was used as an example.

DB (profile) says:

I’m not so sure that the issue is how thin-skinned he is.
This is a dick-waving contest, and at this instant he has the power. He is making a very public demonstration that the world has to bow down before him.

He could have quietly used the political leverage to ‘resolve’ the Cypress situation, and in six months everyone would realize that while we were making fun of him, he had outflanked his critics.

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Pyrrhic victory

This story will come back to to bite Erdogan in the rear (and Turkey’s aspirations along with him).

Turkey’s leadership has long been insistent that Turkey should be, and deserves to be recognized as a modern nation and suitable candidate for membership in the European Union — and that any opposition arguments to Turkey’s membership are based on mere Euro-centric or colonialistic prejudices.

But this sort of uncivilized and anti-democratic temper-tantrum (call it “flag-waving” or whatever) will be clear and embarrassingly public evidence that Turkey is nowhere near ready for such membership, and these incidents will be remembered (and readily appealed to) in any public discussion of the matter.

ceren (profile) says:

Re: Hey Europe,

Fist of all, Turkey doesn’t have desert. Second, Erdogan is not Turkey. He is the biggest malicious tumor a nation can have. He is a cancer to be removed. About you comment on Europe: He got them by the balls on the refugee issues. But, Turkey being so close to Europe, cancer can spread. He is not just Turkey’s problem. He is humanities problem. As long as west turns the blind eye what ever he is doing in his own country, while west spreading DEMOCRACY in oil rich countries, he will be Europe’s problem too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sacks of excrement really have to worry about thin skins. It is life threatening to be harassed by people with verbal skills.

Even the winds from a butterfly’s flutter from several thousands of miles away is of major concern as seen in the article. Life and death events by the actions of one Erdogan, apparently one of the foremost knuckle draggers of Turkey.

Being a public figure such as the leader of a nation, lowly though it be, tends to bring both supplicants and sharped tongued old ladies subject to tell you what they think. It’s a shame the foremost is not and the later is considered a threat to the safety of Erdogan, putting him in fear for his life. I would think Turkey could use more heroes of such stature out on the front line of the battlefield. Used to be they called them cannon fodder.

Today they probably just earn a large yellow stripe.

steell (profile) says:

Anyone heard from the reporters that had video of the Turkish Government delivering truck loads of arms to the Islamic State? Or watched the videos of the Turks with artillery sitting on the hill watching the Kurds in Kobane as they were being slaughtered by Islamic State? And how about all the Kurds being massacred within Turkey even now?

Erdogan is an evil tyrant that needs to be executed, along with the rest of his governmental collaborators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“And how about all the Kurds being massacred within Turkey even now?”

They are terrorists.
The USA and half the world fight and kill terrorists because they want their own state,
Israel fights and kills terrorists because they want their own state, and
Turkey fights and kills terrorists because they want their own state.

So what’s your point?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do you have some inside knowledge about Kurds being terrorists?

I do not know a lot about Kurds, but I do know that their population group spans several nations, and they are heavily discriminated against in each of those, though I do not know why.

So calling them terrorists is about as effective as the US government calling all of us terrorist because we disagree with some of their policies.

So, what’s your agenda?

Turkey has a bit of an upper hand just now acting as a shock absorber for the influx of some of the worlds refugees. Europe wants that shock absorber to be absorbent. Erdogan is making use of that to salve his personal ego.

Rekrul says:

Thankfully, it does not appear Erdogan has discovered a similar such law over in the UK, where The Spectator has launched a contest asking for the most offensive and insulting poetry about Erdogan. The prize is £1,000 (and, I assume, a lifetime ban from visiting Turkey).

Erdogan is a colossal dick,
Who really makes me sick.
I can’t think,
Of a bigger stink,
Than that coming off this prick.

I know, it’s not really that offensive…

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