The European Union and Germany have rejected Turkish protests over a song aired on German TV mocking Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The song, aired two weeks ago on regional broadcaster NDR’s extra3 show, takes aim at Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian style while also making fun of some of his physical characteristics.
Last week, Turkey summoned the German envoy to demand the song be withdrawn.
However, both Germany and the EU have insisted press freedom is inviolable.
In the song, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is criticized on a range of issues ranging from the imprisonment of journalists to heavy-handed treatment of protesters including women (“equal rights for women – they are beaten up equally”).
The song suggests that Recep Tayyip Erdogan would rather bomb Kurds than what the writers term his “brothers in faith”, so-called Islamic State.
The song also ridicules the recent refugee deal agreed between the EU and Turkey seeking to stem the flow of refugees into Europe in exchange for financial aid, among other benefits.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been angered by the song, and the Turkish foreign ministry summoned Germany’s ambassador to Ankara – on repeated occasions, according to reports.
A Turkish diplomatic source told AFP news agency: “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.”
Such demands got short shrift from European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, who “does not appreciate this movement of calling in the German ambassador just because of a satirical song”, spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters.
“He [Jean-Claude Juncker] believes this moves Turkey further from the EU rather than closer to us,” Mina Andreeva said, adding that “freedom of the press and freedom of expression… are values the EU cherishes”.
A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said Berlin had told Ankara basic freedoms were “non-negotiable”.
More than 1,800 people – including celebrities and schoolchildren – have been prosecuted in Turkey for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan since he came to office in 2014, under a previously little-used law.
Pope Francis has defended freedom of speech but also stressed its limits following last week’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The pontiff said religions had to be treated with respect, so that people’s faith was not insulted or ridiculed.
To illustrate his point, Pope Francis told journalists that his assistant could expect a punch if he cursed his mother.
The remarks came as funerals were held for four people killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack by militant Islamists.
Friends and family paid last respects to cartoonists Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous, and Georges Wolinski, as well as columnist Elsa Cayat and policeman Franck Brinsolaro.
Eight magazine staff, a visitor to the magazine, a caretaker and two policemen died in the last week’s attack. A policewoman and four people at a kosher supermarket died in separate attacks.
Al-Qaeda said it had directed the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Charlie Hebdo was targeted for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. It printed another cartoon of the Prophet on its front page after the attacks, angering some Muslims who say all depictions of the Prophet should be forbidden.
France has deployed thousands of troops and police to boost security in the wake of last week’s attacks. There have been retaliatory attacks against Muslim sites around France.
Speaking to journalists flying with him to the Philippines, Pope Francis said last week’s attacks were an “aberration”, and such horrific violence in God’s name could not be justified.
He staunchly defended freedom of expression, but then he said there were limits, especially when people mocked religion.
“If my good friend Doctor Gasparri [who organizes the Pope’s trips] speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched,” he said, throwing a pretend punch at the doctor, who was standing beside him.
“You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit.”
In a separate development, the government announced that a Malian employee of the Jewish supermarket that was attacked would be given French citizenship.
Some 300,000 people signed an online petition calling for the move after the Muslim employee, Lassana Bathily, hid several customers from gunman Amedy Coulibaly in a cold store.
The European Parliament has voted yesterday to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
The proposed agreement sought to curb piracy, but internet campaigners said it posed a threat to online freedoms.
The rejection vote followed a failed attempt to postpone the decision because of ongoing investigations into ACTA by the European Court of Justice.
Euro MP David Martin said: “It’s time to give [ACTA] its last rites.”
Twenty-two EU member states had signed the ACTA treaty – but it had not been formally ratified.
Outside the EU, the treaty also had the support of the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.
The European Parliament has voted yesterday to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
However, following significant protests, several countries chose not to back it.
Wednesday’s vote is seen by most observers as the final blow to the treaty in its current form. It means no member states will be able to join the agreement.
A total of 478 MEPs voted against the deal, with 39 in favor. There were 165 abstentions.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said work on tackling piracy would continue.
“Today’s rejection does not change the fact that the European Commission has committed itself to seeking answers to the questions raised by the European public,” he said.
“The European Commission will continue to seek the legal opinion of the European Court of Justice on whether this agreement harms any of the fundamental rights of European citizens – including freedom of speech.
“European citizens have raised these concerns and now they have the right to receive answers. We must respect that right.”
As the decision was made, some of those in attendance held banners reading: “Hello democracy, goodbye ACTA.”
However, key players in the creative industries expressed frustration at the decision.
“ACTA is an important tool for promoting European jobs and intellectual property,” said Anne Bergman-Tahon, director of the Federation of European Publishers.
“Unfortunately the treaty got off on the wrong foot in the parliament, and the real and significant merits of the treaty did not prevail.”
Alan Drewsen, executive director of the International Trademark Association, warned that Europe could now be left behind when it comes to protecting intellectual property.
“Europe could have seized the chance to support an important treaty that improved intellectual property standards internationally,” he said.
“We expect that ACTA will move ahead without the EU, which is a significant loss for the 27 member states.”
What is ACTA?
• The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international treaty aiming to standardise copyright protection measures.
• It seeks to curb trade of counterfeit physical goods, including copyrighted material online.
• Deterrents include possible imprisonment and fines.
• Critics argue that it will stifle freedom of expression on the internet, and it has been likened to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
• ACTA had been signed by 22 EU members but has now been rejected by the European Parliament.
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