German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Friday that prosecutors were allowed to charge comedian Jan Böhmermann based on a poem he broadcasted that insulted Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Merkel also announced in her speech that her government would aim to replace the current law, which criminalises insulting foreign leaders.
Böhmermann, read out his offensive poem about Erdogan two weeks ago on German TV and made fun of an earlier German song that ridiculed Erdogan.
What Böhmermann did is illegal under German law — Erdogan pressed charges for insulting him personally — but the inquiry needed the approval of the German government to begin.
“There were different opinions between the coalition partners – the conservatives and the SPD (Social Democrats),” Merkel said, according to Reuters. “The outcome is that the German government will give the authorization in the current case.”
Merkel insisted that the decision did not amount to a verdict on whether the comedian was guilty or not.
If found guilty, the comedian could face up to five years in jail for insulting a foreign head of state, and one year for defamation, according to Deutsche Welle.
The decision which was widely awaited has shocked people everywhere and the reactions started flooding social media straight away.
Merkel had initially defended the poem and has on multiple occasions during negotiation with Turkey insisted on the value of free speech. She later called the poem “deliberately offensive.”