An obscene painting of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by German graffiti artist Thomas Baumgartel sparked protests by Turks in Germany who find it defamatory of the president in the latest chapter of a defamation campaign targeting Erdoğan in the European country's entertainment and arts scene.
Baumgartel's bizarre painting, which shows a banana in the rectum of the Turkish president, is on display at a gallery in Langenfeld, Germany. A crowd of German citizens of Turkish origin gathered in front of Langenfeld Kunstverein Gallery to protest the artwork that they described as defamatory. Police did not allow in protesters who left left bananas in front of the gallery late Thursday.
The painting is a reaction to the Jan Böhmermann case according to the artist. Böhmermann, a presenter for public broadcaster ZDF, made the headlines when he read a heavily offensive poem about Erdoğan twice in March and April. He was subject to prosecution in an insult case after Ankara requested German authorities to prosecute him, while ZDF apologized for the incident.
Emel Yavuz Yaşar, one of the protesters outside the gallery, said: "The ugly insult against Erdoğan was actually an insult to Turks in Germany. It is one thing to dislike or like Erdoğan, but we could not stand idle for such an inappropriate painting of the president of Turkey." Hatice Akbaş, another protester, said the Turkish community was worried about the insult to the president. "We wouldn't accept it if it was (German Chancellor Angela Merkel) depicted in the painting. We cannot grasp how authorities allow such an insult," Akbaş said.
The exhibition where the painting is on display will run until Oct. 6, while a lawyer of Turkish origin filed a complaint at the prosecutor's office in Cologne about the painting. Quoted by German media, Langenfeld Mayor Frank Schneider said though arts can be thought provoking, they should "not add fuel" to relations between Germany and Turkey.
Turkey denounced German magazine Der Spiegel earlier this week for a smear against Turkey after it published a cover branding Erdoğan a "dictator" with an illustration showing minarets turning into rockets. "The edition is a "new manifestation of the distorted and prejudiced mindset" targeting Turkey, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. It added that the cover was "especially provocative," as it sought to create a negative image not only about Turkey but also Islam. The statement said it was the latest example of the magazine's anti-Turkey approach.