German politician arrested in Berlin for insulting Turkish president

Bruno Kramm, leader of Berlin's branch of the German Pirate Party, was arrested Saturday for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kramm was detained while conducting a "literary analysis," in support of comedian Jan Boehmermann, outside the Turkish Embassy in Berlin. As part of the publicity stunt, he read two lines of Boehmermann poem ridiculing Erdogan.

The incident comes after chancellor Angela Merkel allowed prosecutors to file charges against Boehmermann, following Turkish demands that he be punished for broadcasting the poem on local television.

Boehmermann, however, was not physically detained by police.

RT reports that Kramm was "approached by several police officers" after he began citing the lines and taken into custody. Police dispersed the gathering, according to RT.

The arrest will further embarrass the German government, which sees itself as supportive of free speech but has failed to scrap an old law against insulting foreign heads of state. Merkel has promised to do so, but has also been criticized for condemning the poem and cosying up to the Turks to get them to accept more Syrian refugees.

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  1. You didn't quite get this right. He wasn't insulting the Turkish president (at least not what's shown in the video), we was publicly reading a "literary analysis" of the insulting poem. (The kind of analysis that's performed in countless English/German and sociology studies.) What he said in the video had nothing insulting in it at all, he only talked about things like how attacking somebody's sexuality in a poem can be used as a literary vehicle to attack somebody's more ephemeral political power.

  2. Erdogan is not going to like the inevitable "Insult A Goat-Fucking Fascist for Solidarity" Day.

  3. We have a word for this in English. The word is disingenuous. I'm not sure if there's a German equivalent. It is defined as "pretending this is only an innocent literary analysis, while reading aloud the offending poem, just coincidentally outside the Turkish embassy, perhaps not a place where many a literary analysis is read to the public."

    We have a tradition here of civil disobedience, which means breaking the law flagrantly to make a political point. When Dr. King or Gandhi did this, they did not pretend to be innocently minding their own business. They went to prison proudly. Pretending their political acts meant nothing would have made them mean nothing.

  4. I don't think you need to be overtly confrontational to get your message across. It can be quite satisfying to be in a circumstance where you can deny the obvious to escape consequences.

    If someone in power has manipulated the system into giving them laws that are biased in their favor when you can then use other laws to your own advantage to spite them is a great morale boost.

    If you can find a way around the law and rub in in their face then that's a solid way to go.

  5. Knowing the local language, listening to the video and consulting other (German-language) sources reveal a little more:

    A court hat ruled before that the protest in front of the embassy would be allowed to take place, but explicitly prohibited any recitation of or quotation from Böhmermann's poem.
    At the very point when Kramm violated that condition by going from pure literary analysis (which he seems to have a hard time reading because it contains so many big words) to explicitly quoting the poem, police step in.

    They do so quite politely ("I'm sorry but...") and Kramm of course plays it for effect. I couldn't understand everything that was said in the video, but Kramm then continues in a load voice:
    Kramm: "How about I continue to talk about this without my microphone?" (readying his notes).
    Policeman: "Then I would have to take steps to prevent [that]".
    Kramm: "So if I now say that... " (at this point he reads from his notes again, apparently from the paragraph just before the direct quote).

    This is the point when police take him away.

    The immediate reason was to prevent the violation of the court-imposed conditions for that particular protest. They had no grounds to imprison him, I gather they just did the "usual", which is to take him to a police station to formally take down & verify his name and address, and then let him go.
    He's being charged for violating the regulations concerning the public protest he organised (which might get him a fine), and he might theoretically be charged according to the same Lèse majesté paragraph as Böhnermann, seeing that he did essentially the same thing.

    That, though, is a thing that the courts need to decide before anyone spends a single night in prison.

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