Earlier this month, the German parliament voted to recognize the 1915 killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide, a motion that passed with support from all parties in the parliament. Turkey, unsurprisingly, was furious about the vote, and immediately recalled its ambassador in Berlin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to Kenya at the time, said “the decision will seriously impact Turkish-German relations.”
Erdogan also took aim at German parliamentarians of Turkish origin, saying they should have blood tests to prove their Turkish identity since “their blood is impure,” statements that infuriated the Turkish community in Germany. Several Turkish-German parliamentarians have been under police protection since the vote, after receiving death threats. Further sparking outrage in Germany and beyond was a speech Erdogan made in which he said that women who reject motherhood are “deficient” and “incomplete.”
The Armenian genocide vote follows the decision of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to allow the prosecution of a German comedian, Jan Boehmermann, who read an offensive satirical poem about Erdogan on a late-night television program. Erdogan, known for his prickly response to insults real and perceived, had pushed for Boehmermann’s prosecution under an obscure section of Germany’s criminal code that allows for the prosecution of insults against organs or representatives of foreign states.