Wednesday 24 January 2018

Boris Johnson wins prize for crude poem about Turkish president

Boris Johnson wanted to highlight freedom of speech with the poem
Boris Johnson wanted to highlight freedom of speech with the poem

Boris Johnson has been thrust back into an international row over freedom of speech - by composing a crude verse about the Turkish president.

The Spectator magazine declared a limerick by the ex-London mayor and prominent Brexit campaigner the winner of the £1,000 top prize in its "P resident Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition".

The contest was launched after Recep Tayyip Erdogan controversially persuaded Angela Merkel to order an investigation of a German comedian who broadcast a dirty ditty about him.

Mr Erdogan has since also been granted an injunction against Jan Boehermann repeating most of the verse, which a German court said crossed the line between "satirical criticism and pure abuse".

Tory MP Mr Johnson - whose great-grandfather was Turkish - has been highly critical of what he called " an outrageous infringement of free speech ... that smacked of some of the darkest moments in Germany's 20th century history".

At the time, he said Mrs Merkel "numbly decided to kowtow to the demands of Erdogan, a man who is engaged in a chilling suppression of Turkish freedom of expression".

Mr Johnson was challenged to come up with an entry for the contest during an interview for the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche, and devised a limerick that referenced the original's theme of sexual relations with goats.

"If somebody wants to make a joke about the love that flowers between the Turkish president and a goat, he should be able to do so, in any European country, including Turkey," he told the magazine.

Mr Johnson is believed to be surprised that the poem had been formally entered to the contest but not embarrassed, believing it is important that the free speech issue continues to be aired.

His winning verse was:

There was a young fellow from Ankara,

Who was a terrific w**kerer,

Till he sowed his wild oats,

With the help of a goat,

But he didn't even stop to thankera.

It was unclear what Mr Johnson would do with the prize money.

Press Association

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