The European political comedy scene kept up its long-running pastime of pillorying Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last weekend, as a satirical show on Sweden’s state-run broadcaster invited a Kurdish comedian to share his material on the Turkish president.
Kristoffer Ahonen Appelquist, the host of the weekly political satire talk show Swedish News, introduced the segment with a few scathing comments of his own, before handing the reins to comedian Kadir Meral for a special “Kurdish News” segment.
Erdoğan is “giving thousands of journalists free room and board,” Appelquist quipped, referring to the Turkish government’s notoriety for wielding the judiciary against critical journalists.
“Today there are tens of thousands of political prisoners in Turkey,” said Appelquist. “There is no press freedom in Turkey.”
But the satirist said it was a different story in democratic Sweden.
“If I want to do Swedish news in Kurdish, I can do it,” he said.
The long introduction led up to Meral’s segment, delivered entirely in the Kurdish language, in which the Kurdish comedian delivered a rapid-fire roast of Erdoğan, taking aim at his appearance, his politics, and his close relations with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
The 10-minute mockery of Turkey’s president came after months of tensions between Stockholm and Ankara over the Scandinavian country’s application to join NATO. Turkey, a powerful NATO member whose policies under Erdoğan have frequently clashed with those of its allies, has vowed to block the application unless Sweden accepts its demands to extradite a list of individuals deemed terrorists by Ankara.
The list includes Kurdish activists accused by Turkey of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for autonomy in the mainly Kurdish southeast for decades.
“Erdoğan, you want (the extradition of) activists and opponents of your regime from Sweden. But those are the things that don’t suit you, and which you hate!” Meral said.
“Is this how you do your internet shopping? ‘That’s so ugly; the size is wrong. I’ll take it!’” he said.
The Swedish comedy joins a list of high-profile Europeans who have made a mockery of Erdoğan as his democratic record consistently worsened over the last decade.
In 2016, the German satirist Jan Böhmermann recorded an insulting poem on the Turkish president, resulting in his prosecution under a German law banning verbal abuse of foreign leaders.
Shortly after Erdoğan’s furious reaction to the Böhmermann affair, Britain’s former prime minister Boris Johnson, then editor of the Spectator magazine, launched a competition for insulting poems about the Turkish leader, awarding himself the grand prize for his own poem.