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Don’t Insult A Foreign Leader!

April 13, 2016

From the what did I learn today file—-or this can not be true file?

In Berlin this week, top diplomats and aides to Ms. Merkel are huddling to plot a response to Turkey’s demand that Germany agree to a criminal investigation of the comedian, Jan Böhmermann, for reciting a crude poem on air about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under a rarely invoked German law that prohibits insults of foreign leaders, Germany’s government is required to decide whether to allow an investigation if one is demanded by the insulted government—a feature that differentiates the law from other German statutes and sets up Ms. Merkel for the conundrum she now faces. Turkey said on Monday that it was formally seeking a probe.

A handful of European countries, such as Poland and Switzerland, have similar statutes on the books, a legacy of when emperors and monarchs ruled much of continent. But the laws are so obscure that domestic media and comedians ridicule foreign politicians with little thought.

In Germany, the law had been most prominently invoked by the shah of Iran in the 1960s. A court ordered two employees of a Cologne newspaper to pay a fine for publishing a cartoon in 1964 ridiculing the monarch, according to German news reports at the time. Three years, later the shah threatened but decided against invoking it again after, on a 1967 German visit, he was greeted with a poster reading “Persia—a concentration camp.”

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