Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Germans Really Don't Have Freedom Of Speech, Do They?

From a story about a German comedian who called Turkey's Erdogan a "goat fucker" among other things...
"Insulting a foreign head of state is illegal under German law, but a prosecution can only take place if a foreign government requests it."
I knew that the Germans had a law against holocaust denial, which was an obvious infringement on freedom of speech, but I didn't know they actually had a law against insulting foreign heads of State. Is it true?

Well apparently (sections 90, and 90a) it is illegal in Germany to insult the President, or to express contempt for the Federal Republic itself or to deface its' symbols (punishable by three months to five years in jail). However those are laws about Germany's own state, not foreign heads of state.

There is also section 103, which reads in English...
"Whosoever insults a foreign head of state, or, with respect to his position, a member of a foreign government who is in Germany in his official capacity, or a head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in the Federal territory shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine, in case of a slanderous insult to imprisonment from three months to five years."
So it is indeed illegal in Germany to publicly insult a foreign head of State, but only while this person is actually in Germany. Again, this is an obvious infringement of the right to freedom of expression. Why is it that the Germans, or at least their democratic political establishment, are seemingly incapable of detecting what the particularly heavy irony is in this case?

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