Turkish President Seeks to Gag German Poem

     BERLIN (AP) — A lawyer for Turkey’s president said Monday that he is seeking a court injunction against the head of one of Germany’s biggest publishing houses in an escalating row over a satirical poem.
     The chief executive of Axel Springer, Mathias Doepfner, had expressed solidarity with a German TV comedian who wrote the crude ditty about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
     In an open letter published by the German weekly Welt am Sonntag last month, Doepfner cited Germany’s tradition of upholding freedom of opinion, art and satire.
     Erdogan’s German lawyer Ralf Hoecker told The Associated Press that he has petitioned the Cologne regional court because Doepfner had repeated an accusation of bestiality contained in the poem. Hoecker is seeking an injunction to stop Doepfner from repeating what he said were vulgar words in the poem referring to Erdogan.
     Hoecker said the court has already gagged a filmmaker who made a video inspired by the poem.
     “As a society we have to be careful when the thin veneer of civilization starts peeling off and a collective loss of inhibition breaks out,” Hoecker said.
     The case had already caused a political uproar in Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel granted a Turkishrequest for Jan Boehmermann, the comedian who authored and read the poem on air, to be investigated on suspicion of insulting a foreign head of state. Under German law, such a probe requires government permission to go ahead.
     Axel Springer, the publishing company, said in a statement that it hadn’t yet received any information about the case. “For us, the situation hasn’t changed,” it said.
     Doepfner appears to have considered the possibility that his support for Boehmermann might lead to legal trouble.
     “As a precaution I want to associate myself wholly with all of your words and insults, Mr. Boehmermann, and make them legally mine,” he wrote. “Maybe we’ll meet in court this way. With President Erdogan as the expert witness for the limits of satirical tastelessness.”
     Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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