Ex London mayor mocks Erdogan in poem, wins prize

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Former Mayor of London and Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson (AFP photo)
Former Mayor of London and Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson (AFP photo)
The former mayor of London Boris Johnson has won a poetry contest about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on the media.

Johnson’s limerick was declared the winner of the Spectator magazine’s “President Erdoğan offensive poetry competition,” which was held following Erdoğan’s efforts to prosecute a German comedian’s “offensive” poem.

After receiving two formal complaints by the Turkish president, a court in the German city of Hamburg issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, banning republication of parts of a satirical poem by Jan Böhmermann, saying they amounted to libel of Erdoğan.

Johnson, whose great-grandfather was Turkish, called the German court’s ruling “a scandal.”

When German Chancellor Angella Merkel said she would allow prosecutors to investigate the case, Johnson said she had “numbly decided to kowtow to the demands of Erdoğan, a man who is engaged in a chilling suppression of Turkish freedom of expression”.

The Conservative MP who wrote the limerick off-the-cuff during an interview with the Swiss weekly magazine Die Weltwoche, is slated to receive a £1,000 prize.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivers a speech at ATO Congress Center in Ankara, May 12, 2016. (AFP photo)

“There was a young fellow from Ankara, Who was a terrific wankerer,” the poem begins.

Journalist and author Douglas Murray, who came up with the idea of the contest, said there were better poems among the many that were sent to the contest but he wanted to make a “moral point more than a poetic one” by handing the prize to Johnson.

“Erdoğan may imprison his opponents in Turkey. Chancellor Merkel may imprison Erdoğan’s critics in Germany. But in Britain we still live and breathe free. We need no foreign potentate to tell us what we may think or say. And we need no judge, especially no German judge, to instruct us over what we may find funny,” Murray said.

He added that he would encourage Johnson to donate the prize money to a relevant charity.

Turkey has been under fire for clamping down on journalists since Erdoğan came to power in 2014, after being over a decade as premier.

Dozens of journalists are put behind bars while according to activists Erdoğan has filed hundreds of court cases against other critics, including many journalists, for insulting him since taking office.

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