Swiss Government Blows Off Turkish President's Demands For Prosecution After He's 'Insulted' By A Local Tabloid

from the towards-a-unified-world-opinion-of-ring-hoarding-leaders dept

Perhaps the thinnest skinned politician on the planet -- Recip "Gollum" Erdogan -- is at it again. His legacy of injunctions, legal threats, and even copyright abuse continues. The latest to draw Erdogan's wrath is Switzerland, which, to be fair, has drawn his wrath in the past. The repeat "offender" was targeted by Erdogan in 2016 for an art exhibit he didn't care for. This wouldn't have happened if Switzerland didn't have a law on the books forbidding insulting foreign leaders. Erdogan has the uncanny ability to sniff out foreign laws that might help him remain un-insulted, but so far has only managed to Streisand himself into infamy.

This time around, it's a Swiss tabloid earning the Turkish president's disdain/threats of prosecution.

The Zurich-based tabloid Blick made Turkish television on Monday night when the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan held up an edition of the Swiss paper with the front-page headline ‘Vote no to Erdogan’s dictatorship’.

The article in German and Turkish called for Turks in Switzerland to vote no in the April 16th referendum which, if successful, would give more powers to Erdogan.

Seems like a logical stance. Erdogan has abused every power he's been given. There's really no reason for other countries to give him more powers to abuse, even indirectly. The Turkish government went full Godwin in response, comparing this editorial's call for a "no" vote to Nazism.

Obviously, the Turkish government saw no irony in immediately demanding the Switzerland government do something about the tabloid's "insults." It has sent four requests for "legal aid," presumably in hopes of getting the tabloid's writers/publishers locked up for saying bad things about the Turkish president.

The Swiss government has responded, telling Turkey to stick to bullying its own citizens.

On Thursday a spokesman from the Swiss justice office, Folco Galli, told broadcaster SRF that four requests lodged by Turkey in mid January had been rejected, citing free speech.

Switzerland would only be obliged to cooperate if the act concerned was considered a crime in both Turkey and Switzerland, he said.

Speaking to the SRF Galli said: “If similar criticisms had been expressed in Switzerland against a federal councillor in the course of a political debate, they would of course have been tolerated as an expression of free speech.”

Which is precisely why the pending referendum should be shot down. The tabloid has perfectly demonstrated why such a law should not be instituted in Switzerland. If it had already been law, Switzerland's government might have been more inclined to assist Erdogan in pushing the editorial's writer.

The statement by the Swiss official is a healthy affirmation of Swiss citizens' protections, but is likely unintelligible to those it's directed at. "Tolerance" and "free speech" are concepts the Turkish president is completely unfamiliar with. As is pointed out in the article, the Turkish government is currently pursuing 2,000 domestic prosecutions over "insulting" social media posts and cartoons. Apparently Erdogan feels his persecution success at home should translate easily abroad. Fortunately for citizens in other countries, it doesn't.

Filed Under: free speech, insults, switzerland, tayyip recep erdogan, turkey


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 5:47am

    That would president asshat Erdogan, no doubt.

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