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7 Feb, 2019 18:41

Turkey charges HSBC banker for insulting Erdogan with Hitler meme video

Turkey charges HSBC banker for insulting Erdogan with Hitler meme video

HSBC’s Turkish CEO will stand trial for sharing a video comparing the country’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Adolf Hitler during anti-government protests in 2013, Bloomberg reported.

As demonstrators flooded Istanbul’s Gezi Park in 2013, HSBC CEO Selim Kervanci shared a video clip from the movie ‘Downfall,’ which depicts Adolf Hitler’s hysterical rant in his Berlin bunker as the Soviet Red Army closed in on the city. The clip had been used for meme-making many times before, but this time the Turkish subtitles made it seem as if the Nazi leader is Erdogan discussing ways of clamping down on the protests.

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, punishable by up to four years imprisonment. Kervanci’s trial will begin in April.

While the law was rarely enforced until Erdogan assumed the presidency in 2014, several bizarre cases have been heard since. A man in the province of Antalya was given a suspended sentence for a 2014 Facebook post comparing Erdogan to the “gangrel creature”Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A doctor was expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey (THSK) for sharing similar images.

Also on rt.com Turkish court convicts man for comparing precious President Erdogan to Gollum

Over 12,000 people have been prosecuted in Turkey for insulting the president between 2014 and 2017, including a German comedian who read a derogatory poem about Erdogan on German television in 2016. The poem, which accused the Turkish strongman of “f*cking goats,” saw the comedian prosecuted in Germany. The German court dropped the case and the paragraph allowing Germans to be prosecuted for insulting foreign leaders was scrapped from the country’s law books in 2017.

Erdogan considered the 2013 protests a precursor to the failed coup attempt against him in 2016. Both incidents triggered crackdowns on dissent, and the Turkish government is still prosecuting people it deems responsible for the putsch. The Erdogan government’s attempts to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen from the US played a key role in straining diplomatic relations between Washington and Ankara in recent months.

While Gulen is wanted for allegedly masterminding the 2016 coup, Kervanci is accused of no such crimes, having merely shared a video over five years ago.

Erdogan has, however, railed against bankers and the financial sector before. The president has blamed foreign financial powers for his country’s economic woes, urged investors to ignore ratings agencies like Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, and accused Turkish bankers of raising interest rates to cause inflation, a link disputed by most western economists.

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