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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Last week, Turkey summoned the German envoy to demand the song be withdrawn.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.Recep Tayyip Erdogan song Germany

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.

One person was shot dead and three police officers were wounded at a freedom of speech debate in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen where the French ambassador was speaking.

Two gunmen are said to be still at large.

Reports say up to 40 shots were fired outside the venue in the Danish capital.

Controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has drawn caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, was also present at the blasphemy debate.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Shortly after the attack, a message appeared on the Twitter feed of French ambassador Francois Zimeray saying he was unharmed.

The area around the venue, reportedly a cafe, is under lockdown.

Lars Vilks stoked controversy in 2007 by drawing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad dressed as a dog.

An organizer of the event, Helle Merete Brix, said she clearly considered the incident as an attack on Lars Vilks, reported the Associated Press.

In 2010 two brothers tried to burn down Lars Vilks’ house in southern Sweden and were imprisoned for attempted arson.

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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.Pope Francis on freedom of speech

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.

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Journalists at Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship.

The row was sparked last week when the paper’s New Year message calling for reform was changed by propaganda officials.

Southern Weekly’s staff wrote two letters calling for the provincial propaganda chief to step down. Another row then erupted over control of the paper’s microblog.

Supporters of the paper have gathered outside its office, reports say.

Some of the protesters carried banners that read: “We want press freedom, constitutionalism and democracy.”

Chinese media are supervised by so-called propaganda departments that often change content to align it with party thinking.

Journalists at Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship

Journalists at Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship

Southern Weekly is one of the country’s most respected newspapers, known for its hard-hitting investigations and for testing the limits of freedom of speech.

The row erupted after a New Year message which had called for guaranteed constitutional rights was changed by censors into a piece that praised the Communist Party.

In response, the newspaper’s journalists called for the Guangdong propaganda chief’s resignation, accusing him of being “dictatorial” in an era of “growing openness”.

In two open letters 35 prominent former staff and 50 interns at the paper demanded Tuo Zhen step down, saying the move amounted to “crude” interference.

On Sunday night, a message on the newspaper’s official microblog denied that the editorial was changed because of censorship, saying that the “online rumors were false”.

The microblog updates, said to have been issued by senior editors, sparked the strike among members of the editorial team who disagreed with the move, reports say.

Almost 100 editorial staff members have gone on strike, saying the newspaper is under pressure from authorities.

It is thought that this is the first time that there has been a direct showdown between newspaper staff and party officials.

How the case is handled is seen as a key test for Chinese officials, installed just two months ago in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition, observers say.

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Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning, who was convicted of subversion charges with the help of evidence provided by Yahoo, has been released from jail.

Wang Xiaoning was freed early on Friday morning, his wife, Yu Ling, announced.

He who was detained in 2002, served his 10-year sentence in a Beijing jail.

Yahoo drew widespread criticism for providing information linking him to emails and political writings.

Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning, who was convicted of subversion charges with the help of evidence provided by Yahoo, has been released from jail

Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning, who was convicted of subversion charges with the help of evidence provided by Yahoo, has been released from jail

Yu Ling said her husband was in “good health and fine spirits” but was not allowed to give media interviews under the conditions of his release.

She could not comment on his experience in prison, she added.

Wang Xiaoning, a former engineer, was prosecuted after posting pro-democracy statements online calling for an end to one-party Communist rule. He was jailed for “incitement to subvert state power”.

The case raised questions about whether internet companies should co-operate with governments that repress freedom of speech.

A human rights group filed a lawsuit in the US on behalf of several plaintiffs, including Wang Xiaoning and a Chinese journalist, Shi Tao, who was also jailed for 10 years in 2005.

Yahoo later apologized and paid an undisclosed amount of compensation to the families involved.

It also told the US congress that the company had been legally obliged to provide the information.


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)

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.