Source: Christopher de Bellaigue in The New York Review of Books online March 9
To many Western observers, the phenomenon of President of Turkey Recep Teayyip Erdoğan’s increased powers demonstrates a return to the kind of authoritarianism that is common to many countries of the Middle East. It also seems to accord with the increasing turn away from democratic practices in many parts of the world, from Putin’s Russia to Trump’s America. On closer inspection, however, what is happening in Turkey shows distinct traces of an earlier phase of Islamic-minded autocracy in the country’s history.
President Erdoğan of Turkey tried to silence one of his German critics but failed when, on Tuesday, a court denied his request to block an open letter by the head of one of Germany’s most powerful media companies expressing support for a comedian who lampooned the Turkish leader. The comedian is Jan Böhmermann, pictured here.
The comedian recently said in an interview quoted in The New York Times, “Censored in Germany,” on May 4:
“We proved that we are a completely humorless nation…. I think it’s because of our language…. In English you can make a joke and you don’t – you don’t ah, give away the punchline during the setup. But our language is so complicated that you always give away the punchline during the setup, because we like, put the verbs – it’s so, it’s strange, it really is strange. Yeah. It is, it really is.”
Question: The location of the verb is a problem?
“Yeah, the location of the verb. Put it at the end. You don’t know what a German wants to say to you until you get to the end. Very rude, or very nice, but you have – it’s always nerve-wracking to – you know, it’s tough, it really is tough to – it’s actually no joke. It’s tough to be funny in German.”