tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV April 17, 2016 2:30pm-3:01pm PDT
♪ peter: hello, and a very warm welcome indeed to this latest edition of "quadriga," coming to you from the heart of the german capital, berlin. this week here in germany, all eyes have been on this man, popular comedian and satirist jan bohmermann, after he launched a fierce satirical attack, ridiculing turkish president recep tayyip erdogan. turkey is furious, and is calling on berlin to prosecute bohmermann, but his followers say in satire, everything goes. who is right, and how much will this clash of political cultures impact relations between germany and turkey?
our question here on "quadriga," this week is germany's satire affair, who will have the last laugh? and to discuss that this week, i am joined here by excellent commentators and observers. let me introduce them to you. beginning with andreas kluth, from "the economist," magazine, who says "this latest clash between germany and turkey is childish and irresponsible. merkel and erdogan need to start acting like adults." meanwhile, malte lehming from berlin "der tagesspiegel" says, "any good satirist will be put on trial at least once in his lifetime. jan bohmermann will have the last laugh here." and deger akal also joins us. she works for dw"s turkish desk, and has just returned from turkey. she says "politicians should not , define the limits of satire , because if they did, an entire nation might forget what satire is." andreas kluth, i would like to begin with you if i might, and
earlier this week, i opened up one of my favorite early newspapers. -- berlin newspapers. i was reading an article about this topic that we are discussing today. it began with the following sentence. i'm quoting here. "it must, with all due respect, be said that recep tayyip erdogan does not copulate with goats." [laughter] andreas, what is going on? andreas: i work in that same presumption. first of all what is going on is , that this satirist, jan bohmermann, had on march 31, done a short video clip on german public television, which is no longer available, but i was watching it that i saw it -- or perhaps, i was unfortunate to have seen it, because it was not terribly tasteful. that is i think beyond the question. he did some very funny meta-irony in the clip, and he started, i should say he was reacting to another clip a few weeks earlier, which was quite tame and mild and almost boring, so actually bad as satire.
but that also lampooned and ridiculed erdogan. erdogan had complained, and there was a short discussion about freedom of the press, and free speech. in this one, all of germany and angela merkel came down firmly on this side of free speech. i believe he was reacting to that. jan bohmermann, on march 31, he did the following. he opened and said, " there is a line between free speech, and clearly illegal insults. now where is that line? let me show you. if it had been illegal insult, it would have sounded like this. " and then he proceeded to read a poem, which, it rhymed and stuff, which as you mentioned, erdogan was a pedophile, homosexual, zooophile, which i prefer not to quote literally from the poem, but that kicked off this diplomatic disaster.
peter: so it is fair to say, that obscenities were hurled at the turkish leader. andreas: not just obscenities, but a string of pure unadulterated, there was no content or criticism of politics. it was just he copulate with , this, this, every barnyard animal. peter: deger, obscenities being hurled at the turkish leader. what is the response in turkey? you have just been there. deger: well, akp's and erdogan's response is very hard. peter: the governing party. deger: yes. the governing party's response is hard. the turkish government has asked bohmermann to be persecuted. -- prosecuted. there are reactions, people feel that erdogan is being insulted. no one is talking about a criticism toward the situation in turkey. it is more about erdogan and the fact that he was insulted by a german comedian. that is the general perception of the public. peter: when you saw this, as
presented on german tv, can i ask you, what was your -- without an initial reaction from andreas, i think the opinion is pretty much clear. what was your gut reaction, deep down inside? how did you respond? felt disgust,y actually. his point.derstand i thought about it a long time. is ase in turkey, there really critical crisis going on. there are more than two dozen people being prosecuted, because erdogan is arguing that he perceives everything as an insult, even critics. so while these things are happening in turkey, you don't expect something like this. i was ju -- i do undstand obscene but thiis persally i realldidn't -- i ft
diusted. i reallyelt that pete le's fi out whamalta thinks. -- malt i think is obsce and disgusti,ut givenhe history of it, it is interesting as well. even the chancellor had thattch, and i would say they had a problem with freedom of expression. the problem with the poem is to prove his point, and he intentionally and deliberately mixes satirical context and accuse -- a few said words, that was his intention to do that. is, to make his point, for lines would be enough. but the poem is like 20 lines. you send a message, you might
say -- send a message that goes beyond that. that you feel sentiments against not just erdogan, but against people from anatolia, turkey, will whatever. anti-muslim sentiments. just because of the length of it. it has 20 lines. peter: you talked about the point he was trying to make. can you be a little more specific? malte: the point is to be more specific. if he is claiming -- i will show you what is allowed and what is illegitimate. if on the other side, he then quotes a lot of words that are illegitimate, then he wants to i would say, the distinction is not what he's aiming for, but the blurring of distinction. andreas: it was a way of circumventing it.
that the satirical always goes beyond borders. if that was covered by freedom of speech, let the court find out. has the right, as any citizen has, to go and ask the court what the opinion is, if this is covered by freedom of speech or not. i would not be afraid. i think erdogan might lose in front of the court. he might win as well. but the court is a public place where all these things can be discussed again and again. peter: andreas mentioned this already. waspoem from jan bohmermann followed in earlier broadcast by a satirical song, also criticizing recep tayyip erdogan 's policies in turkey and his authoritarian rule. let's look at that and talk a
the american in me finds this well within the limits of free speech. like malte, i think even if it goes to a court, mr. bohmermann has nothing to fear. by the way, erdogan is making a full of himself by being so upset. thing about satire. when it is so gratuitously over-the-top and ridiculous, without any content, this video at least had a little bit of content why we are making fun of him -- then it backfires. there is no harm done. andave all been in pubs bars, where we called each other the very terms in the poem, and that is just what one does after a third beer. i think he shouldn't be so upset, but i think it is well within free speech. free speech was made for offensive speech, not for reasonable speech. if we were all reasonable, we would not need this consensus. it will pass.
peter: what about the turkish tradition of satire?i'm sure there is a tradition in a vibrant society. what are turkish people saying, what is acceptable and what is not? where is it a question of dignity and respect? deger: when i was in internet -- is simple, the people sang the song and asked me. we really had fun with the song. but the problem is of course, there is political satire in turkey. it has a long tradition. there are still a lot of people trying to do it. , youe have to save it cannot see any programs and tv channels, there is no political there anymore, because are a lot of convictions and prosecutions. say??o you expect me to there are a lot of people still
using social media and other channels, but we cannot see it -- it is not on the agenda anymore. we don't have those programs on tv anymore. peter: is a context. all of this is taking place against the background of the real world top -- politics. the deal usually -- recently cringed between the eu and turkey with the refugee crisis, that ae any danger, satirical skit could actually have a huge political impact? malte: i think the contents is very important. that is what made this satirical affair almost -- i would not make it a state affair, but almost a state affair between erdogan and marco -- angela merkel. he chose to go -- way he chose to go is to protect leaders of the world against insulting, but the government
has to open the gate for that. so angela merkel has two ways to go. 'sther she denies erdogan right to go in court, which is a human right every citizen has, and especially as a leader of a opens theate, or she prosecuting way. forthen, would be regarded most germans as being said -- submissive, as a sleeve of her own policy. that would be very political. she might have contributed to that. her first initial reaction is, it is not deliberately offensive. close with this quote? she has no alternative than to open it. but even if she opens the road, it is problematic, because
we have had several cases related to this subject in france, for example, or even in turkey. the president is using a similar article in the criminal court for all these proceedings. the problem is that the court of human rights has a decision, that presidents are not privileged. this article might not be valid anyway, even if she opens the gate for this article, it might end up at the european court of human rights, and it won't work. i personally don't believe angela merkel will open the door anyway. i think it is turkey's miscalculation, and erdogan's mistake to put merkel in such a difficult situation domestically. germany is the only western ally who still has communication channels with turkey, which is
in turkey's interest. forn't see any endgame turkey, we just dramatic actually, because if angela merkel does not open the door, it will be for the prosecution. it will be a good point for angela merkel politically. she will have great support. i don't think she will open it, but even if she would, she would not be punished -- it would not be considered a criminal offense. is for the court to decide, i would say. i would say clearly, if she opens the door for prosecution, it would be regarded as being submissive, by many germans, and she would clearly lose confidence in her own electorate. on the other hand, it is not that she is saying, i think jan bohmermann should be punished. it is just that i see the conditions have been met to open the court the procedural way.
that is the only message she should make. the right to deny the turkish leader the right to every other leader and citizen has, it is not her duty to do that. just in legal terms, to give him the privilege to present, and say, angela merkel now says i don't have the right to go in court. she might have been in bad conscious or something like this. is she the real winner if she delays -- denies that? it would be smart and clever -- real tragedy in this, is that we in germany are forgetting, we are talking about something incredibly ridiculous. when at the same time, there is a refugee crisis and the syrian war, and problems with russia, all three of which turkey is now absolutely central as a player.
by the way, as a backdrop of this discussion -- distraction is an incredibly complicated history between angela merkel and erdogan. with nicholas sarkozy in 2007, negotiated the turkish wish to join the eu. at that time, erdogan was not that bad. he was a reformer. i think that accelerated his path the other way. she criticized him a lot in the years after, and then the refugee crisis happens, and suddenly she needs him. this is the skepticism in the german population. there was a poll a few weeks large number,, a 70% of germans thought that turkey is not to be trusted as a partner. for france and america, it was the other way around. you have to solve these crises.
both angela merkel and erdogan are central in solving the crises, and now they are talking about homosexuality and pedophilia. is a problem. they should be dealing with the crisis. malte: another underline of the whole affair is that germans don't like to be dependent on turkey, as they are because of the refugee crisis. erdogan they are dependent on turkey and on -- they are dependent on them and on erdogan 's good behavior. they just hate themselves for being dependent on turkey. that is why all this self-hate comes up with this satirical kind of thing. i think that is the underlined. peter: ok, that is how german steel. let's find out how some mental -- members of the turkish communities are feeling when we go to the german district with a big turkish community. [video clip]
the berlin turkish community believes no one in this country is entitled to absolutely unlimited freedom. one person's freedom ends where the next persons freedom begins. ♪ we can't express our opinions. that is not democracy. the past has got to be free, no matter -- press has got to be free no matter what they write, but she has to have some limits. ♪ [and video clip] peter: we mentioned it, there are certainly a lot of people saying that there are perhaps racist anti-turkish undertones about this poem from jan bohmermann. i agree.
i thought the same thing. i thought it was a step too far. i felt it. peter: is it a racist how women? -- poem? itreas: i did not perceive that way, but if you look at me, i am not very turkish. peter: a young turkish journalist was reading a litany of the cheapest and worst prejudices about turks. is an openis question. that is news to me. i don't know where that would come from. to me, it is an off-the-shelf, gratuitous insult that you her let anybody when you need a prefers -- perverse insult. i would have done if i tried to provoke you. i don't see anything particularly as a turkish stereotype. malte: but there is something particularly turkish. just for the sake of the argument to construct an example, if the same would have
happened to the prime minister of israel, and the satirist would have said the same things, with all the satirical and obscenities, the mixture, would he be denied to go to court and ask for revenge or -- i don't think so. outcry this kind of huge would have happened, and it would be seen as anti-israel. it has to do with a special german turkish relationship, as we have a special relationship with anyone. deger: i would like to add something. although i thought there were aspects that i would not want to hear again, i think freedom of anression should not be offense, a criminal offense. i am against the fact that he could be punished. it should not be a criminal offense. this is what he is maybe
challenging right now. that is why i think it is very important and interesting to follow discussions in germany, because it might expand freedom of expression in germany, because it might not be a criminal offense anymore. we will see the discussions, but i think that is an important point. malte: it's a little bit strange to see now, especially the germans, to be the most freedom loving nation on earth. [laughter] holocaust -- the they are on the forefront against facebook, and the hate commentary on facebook and things like this. freedom of expression and freedom of speech is not a value this is the right order for germans. first unity, and then freedom comes last. peter: that is interesting. andreas: i would like to say, i
would like to add into the mix, because we are all talking about is,ridiculous bohmermann but i would like to add to important people. bohmermann will not solve the syrian civil war or the refugee crisis or russian crisis. we hadngela meel and eogan that we e primarily concerned with. they need to get back to business. if you look at them, angela merkel, she has taken the holy to decide. she has not made a decision. this is unusual. she is getting advice from many people. that shows you she is struggling with it. but she is clearly responsible in the way that she would like to move on to bigger things. this is all a tragedy to her. erdogan, however, loves getting sidetracked into these infantile , childish little things, and he provokes himself all the time. not in the way of satire, but he
needs a good spanking in the press, because he needs to get down to business. peter: the fact of the matter is, he is the subject of attacks that featured obscenities, and he is personally attack. i find it difficult to believe that the german media, the german satirists who came to be tame -- tend to be tame, i find it difficult that they could include sheep and copulation in the same sentence. andreas: but if we did, they should not go to jail. this is my point earlier, if they did, it would make it so ridiculous, that it would be career ending for a satirist to do that: about her -- poem about her. is best way to unmask them let them do it themselves. malte: i agree completely with you. we have far too many rules to
limit freedom of speech in germany. we are not a freedom of speech loving country. there are far too many rules. but if we had these laws, and it comes to a moment like this, and we say now we want freedom of speech, that would be doubletalk. if we had these laws, we would have to ask if it is in between the law or not. that would open the gates for procedural. peter: unfortunately, we are out of time. who is going to have the last laugh? malte: i would say jan bohmermann. whatever happens, even if he gets prosecuted, he would be regarded by the germans as one of the best satirists. , i agree.mermann andreas: i think all around, all three of us. peter: [laughter] i suspected. thank you very much for joining me. you have given us plenty of food for thought. please join us next week. get in touch by mail or social
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