Germany Legalizes Insulting Foreign Leaders As Trump Takes Office

Germany's justice ministry said the law that makes it a crime to denigrate foreign heads of state is outdated.
Posted at 9:48 PM, Jan 25, 2017

The German justice ministry has decided to get rid of an old law that prohibited citizens from criticizing foreign leaders — and the timing is probably not a coincidence.

The move comes less than a week into Donald Trump's presidency and the same day that Germany's justice minister posted a tweet criticizing Trump's immigration policy.

Germany does have free-speech laws. But it also had an archaic 19th century clause on the books that forbid its citizens from criticizing foreign heads of state.

Trump spent much of his first week in office lashing out at protesters, criticizing the media and disputing evidence that his inauguration ceremony wasn't as well attended as Barack Obama's was.

President Trump will likely get plenty of criticism from Germany, too. A 2016 Pew study found 85 percent of Germans had no confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs.

The law is being removed after another thin-skinned world leader exploited it just last year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wasn't happy when German comedian Jan Böhmermann recited a raunchy poem about him on television. Erdogan wanted the comic to be prosecuted under that rule.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel initially supported his prosecution, but that was likely because Germany's relationship with Turkey was on the rocks. The charges were eventually dropped

Now, Merkel's administration probably wants to avoid a similar headache in the future.