[1/26/17] What timing! Less than one week after U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Germany announced it will do away with the portion of its criminal code that makes it illegal to insult a foreign leader by Jan. 1, 2018.
The regulation, described by Justice Minister Heiko Maas as “obsolete and unnecessary,” is infrequently used, though it was invoked last year after comedian Jan Boehmermann read an “obscene poem” about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on television. The case was dropped due to “lack of evidence,” although Erdogan still has a civil suit against the comedian, which will be decided in Hamburg on Feb. 10.
Perhaps Germany, independent of anything happening in the wider world, just decided the time had come to do away with the law. Or perhaps Maas noted that the new president of the United States takes to Twitter to insult the cast of comedy program Saturday Night Live. Who knows!
It is not all light-hearted jokes at foreign leaders’ expense in Germany, though. On Thursday, Deutsche Welle reported that German media found that, in 2016, roughly half of all right-wing extremists were prone to violence, and that the number of right-wing extremists is increasing.