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Turkey slams 'ugly' Swedish satire mocking Erdogan

Feud over satirical TV show comes as Turkey renews threat to block the Nordic country's Nato accession
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during his party’s group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, on 5 October 2022 (AFP)

Turkey has lodged a formal complaint with Sweden over an “ugly” satire TV show that aired "insulting content" about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The weekly satirical show, Swedish News, which regularly makes fun of Swedish and international politicians, hosted Kadir Meral, a Swedish-Kurdish satirist who gave a two-minute performance in Kurdish mocking Erdogan.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Sweden's ambassador to Turkey, Staffan Herrstrom, and lodged a formal complaint, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The comedian makes fun of Erdogan for going bald while he leads a country that is famous for hair transplants. It also portrayed a recent gas leak in the Baltic Sea being caused by Erdogan passing gas from eating too many kebabs.

The show pictured mock-up images of a bare-chested Erdogan wearing swim trunks and enmeshed in a Kurdish flag. Another image showed Erdogan wearing a hijab.

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The incident comes at a sensitive time in the bilateral relationship. Finland and Sweden have scrambled to become Nato members after Russia invaded Ukraine and Erdogan threatened to block their bids seeking concessions.

Finland, Sweden and Turkey struck a deal in June, which included provisions on extraditions and sharing of information, clearing the way for Nato to formally invite the two nations to join the western military alliance.

Erdogan on Saturday renewed his threat to block their application until the two nations "kept" the promises they made to Ankara.

He has repeatedly accused both countries of being havens for Kurdish militants, specifically highlighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and for promoting "terrorism".

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson played down the importance of the satirical TV show over which Ankara protested, and said she did not think it would harm Sweden's chances to join Nato.

"I think what is important for Turkey is, of course, that we live up to the agreement that we have made," she told a news conference.

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