from the but-not-because-of-trump dept
Last year, we wrote about a bizarre situation in Germany, in which the incredibly thin-skinned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had discovered a little-used, mostly forgotten German law, saying that it was illegal to insult a foreign leader, and used it to go after a German comedian. Erdogan, of course, had been filing thousands of lawsuits within Turkey against people who mocked or insulted him, which resulted in people around the globe mocking and making fun of Erdogan. But the fact that he dug up this mostly forgotten law created a bit of a diplomatic mess at the time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was trying to play nice with Erdogan diplomatically, for the sake of helping with the flood of refugees from the Middle East. The weak "compromise" was that Merkel allowed the case to move forward, leading to a sad ruling from a German court, barring the comedian from mocking Erdogan, though a federal investigation was later dropped for "lack of evidence."
However, part of the compromise suggested at the time was that Merkel would allow that case to move forward, but would work towards getting that law off the books later. And apparently, that time is now. The German cabinet has said that the law is being scrapped.
Justice Minister Heiko Mass said the law is "obsolete and unnecessary," Deutsche Welle reported. He said the concept "dates back to a long-gone era, it no longer belongs in our criminal law."
Mass added that foreign heads of state could still pursue libel and defamation cases "but no more or less so than any other person," according to the broadcaster.
Of course, given that this is happening less than a week after the Trump inauguration and the Merkel/Trump relationship is off to quite a rocky start, with Merkel now making very public digs at the new US President, some are trying to read more into the plan to dump this law. The timing is, most likely, more of a coincidence, but perhaps it will free up Merkel to come up with better insults for other world leaders.