On Friday, September 30th, a Kurdish comedian spent several minutes on a Swedish satirical TV show joking about Turkish president Erdogan. According to Swedish state broadcaster SVT, the joke has now caused diplomatic tensions between Stockholm and Ankara:
Comedian Kadir Meral joked about Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for several minutes during “Swedish News” last Friday. The segment has now reached Turkey, where it has caused strong reactions.
The SVT correspondent in Turkey, Tomas Thorén, reports that jokes about Erdogan by German comedians have made the president upset, to the point where it has affected the diplomatic relations between Turkey and Germany.
Daily newspaper Expressen reports that Erdogan-friendly Turkish newspaper Sabah refers to the Kurdish comedian’s joke as “shameful for Swedish television.” Expressen also quotes the Turkish news site Internet Haber as saying:
In Sweden, where PKK members protest in the streets on a daily basis, President Erdogan was ridiculed and insulted in state-run SVT.
The satirical segment by the Kurdish comedian has had diplomatic repercussions. Daily newspaper Aftonbladet reports:
The Swedish ambassador was reportedly called into the Turkish foreign ministry with reference to “insulting content.” The ambassador was reportedly told that the “disrespectful expressions and images” are unacceptable.
Aftonbladet also reports that Wednesday, five days after the satirical show was broadcast, the Swedish foreign ministry confirmed the ambassador’s meeting in Ankara. Citing an email correspondence with the Swedish foreign ministry, Aftonbladet reports that the Swedish ambassador explained to the Turkish government that “there is freedom of speech in Sweden.”
The newspaper also quotes Paul Levin, head of the Institute for Turkish Studies at the University of Stockholm. Levin points out that Erdogan, being very sensitive to insults, could let this spoil diplomatic relations between Sweden and Turkey.
On October 1st, Voice of America reported that Turkey had renewed its threats to veto the Swedish application for NATO membership.