German opposition rebukes minister for targeting journalist, says Germany is not Turkey

Opposition lawmakers in Germany are criticizing the interior minister over a decision to file a criminal complaint against a journalist over a column criticizing the police, likening the move to Ankara’s chokehold over media.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told German Bild newspaper on Sunday that he would file a criminal complaint against columnist Hengameh Yaghoobifarah over a piece titled "All cops are incapable." 

The article, a satire piece which questioned the credentials of police, has sparked outrage from police unions and led to dozens of complaints to Germany's press council.

Ulla Jelpke, a lawmaker with the Left Party, said the complaint was  “familiar from the tyrant in Turkey, Erdoğan,’’ Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.

“It should be naturally impossible for something like this (to happen) in a democratic country,’’ Jelpke said.

Greens MP Michael Kellner called the move an attack on freedom of speech, saying the criminal complaint recalled Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Poland’s ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, both known for their right-wing nationalist views. 

German Comedian Jan Böhmermann, who was subject to a probe for a insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a satirical poem in 2016, reacted to Seehofer, saying, “We are not in Turkey in 1962 Russia,’’ accusing the German minister of damaging trust in the state.

According to the World Press Freedom Index in 2020 by Reporters Without Borders, Turkey placed 154th out of 180 countries. The International Observatory Human Rights (IOHR) indicates that Turkey remains the worst jailer of journalists globally.