Germany’s ambassador to Turkey, Martin Erdmann, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Ankara last week, according to German media, and asked to justify the contents of the short film made by Extra 3, the popular satirical television programme.
“We demanded that the programme be deleted,” a Turkish diplomat told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.
The complaints centre on a two-minute song, Erdowi, Erdowo, Erdoğan, which was broadcast by the TV channel NDR on 17 March. The lyrics mock the president for everything from his “showy palace with a thousand rooms, built without a permit in a conservation area” to his crackdown on press freedom, and for “jailing journalists for writing things he doesn’t like”.
It also criticises his attitude towards the Kurds, claiming he is “more inclined to bomb them than his brothers in faith from Isis”, and paints a picture of a Europe that is kowtowing to his demands.
Accompanying footage of Angela Merkel being received by Erdoğan at his palace, are the lines: “Be nice to him since he’s holding all the cards”, in reference to the way the German leader has embraced Turkey – despite misgivings about its human rights record – in order to secure its support over the refugee crisis.
Instead of bowing to demands for the video to be wiped, Extra 3 sought to build on the huge interest in the song, fuelled largely by reports of the diplomatic fallout it has caused, by publishing it on Twitter, this time with English subtitles.
On its Facebook page the programme also reposted older satirical videos about Erdoğan, including one from 2014 which claims the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is his idol.
It also posted a cartoon depicting the Turkish leader holding a fire extinguisher in front of a laptop, stating: “Either you extinguish this video, or I’ll extinguish the internet”.
Critics of Germany’s refusal to openly address Turkey’s democratic deficit say Ankara’s reaction to the video, coupled with the German government’s lack of reaction to the summoning of its ambassador, reflected Turkey’s increasingly doctrinaire attitude.
“Erdoğan’s arm now reaches into Germany,” Sevim Dağdelen, foreign policy spokeswoman of the leftwing Linkspartei told Spiegel. “The foreign office finally has to take a clear stand to defend press freedom. Our fundamental rights cannot be sacrificed on the altar of the shabby EU-Turkey deal.”
Here is the video in question: