Germany’s central bank board wants a member fired for his racially charged writings

BERLIN, Germany — Thilo Sarrazin may not sport the mad-scientist hairstyle of the Dutch anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders, nor the handsome tan-and-teeth combination of the late Austrian right-wing populist Jörg Haider.

With his forgettable coiffure, spectacles and moustache, Sarrazin fits the job description: a 65-year-old former Berlin Finance Minister sitting on the board of Germany’s central bank.

But his rhetoric matches that of his flashier ideological bedfellows. And it has created a storm that commentators across the political spectrum say highlights Germany’s decades-long failure to manage the integration of its large Turkish and Arab populations.

Sarrazin, already notorious for outbursts on Islam and immigration, bested himself this week as he launched his new book, “Abolishing Germany: How we’re putting our country in jeopardy.”

He doesn’t, he insisted, want his grandchildren living in a country in which “Turkish or Arabic will be spoken in large areas … and the daily rhythm is set by the call of the muezzin.”

Immigration, he has said in the past, is making Germany “dumber” because many of the country’s estimated 4 million Turks and Arabs “have no productive function other than in the fruit and vegetable trade,” unless one counts “constantly [producing] little girls in head scarves.”

Topping it off was the claim that “all Jews share a certain gene” – a remark widely reported as anti-Semitic, though in fact Sarrazin’s racialist theories seem to hold Jews to be genetically superior to other races, notably Turks and Arabs.

The swift condemnation culminated Thursday when the Bundesbank board recommended to President Christian Wulff that Sarrazin be fired. A short statement read: “The board of the German Bundesbank today unanimously decided to ask the Federal President to dismiss Dr. Thilo Sarrazin as a member of the board.”

And Sarrazin’s own center-left Social Democratic Party has begun a process to expel him.

Sarrazin, who shows no inclination to start a popular movement in the style of Wilders or Haider, might be safely dismissed were it not for the fact that his book has already shot to number one on Amazon.de’s best-seller list. And there are other signs that Germans are listening, among them the flood of support from readers of the mass-circulation tabloid Bild, which is by far the country’s biggest-selling and most influential newspaper.

It’s a reflection, observers say, of genuine frustration over Germany’s long neglect of Turkish and Arab integration, not to mention a distraction from the clear-headed debate Germany needs to solve the education, employment and crime problems that hold back these communities.

“Governments have known that it was a problem but they haven’t done anything about it,” said Oktay Demirel, 29, a hospital administrator from Düsseldorf who runs an advocacy group for Turkish youths. “And then someone like Sarrazin comes along and throws fuel on the fire and says, ‘I’m telling uncomfortable truths,’ when in fact they’re just old social Darwinist theories. And some people listen.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of “guest workers” came to Germany – many from poor parts of Turkey and Morocco – to fill jobs created by the country’s post-war “economic miracle.”

In contrast to, say, a U.S.-style aspiration to citizenship and social mobility, these guest workers were considered just that – guests who filled temporary manual labour shortages.

When many of them decided to stay, Germany was unprepared to deal with their integration, explained Mona Kheir El Din, an education consultant who was born in Egypt but whose mother is German.

“Germany missed the moment when it became clear that those workers were here to stay,” she said. “And so they missed the chance to create of a set of proper immigration and integration laws. Fifty years of mismanagement or ignorance in integration matters have consequences.

“Twenty years ago when I mentioned Egypt, people would say, ‘Oh how nice, the pyramids.’ Now, they no longer ask me when I’m going home, but instead there is sometimes a suspicion about being a Muslim who’s here to stay.'”

Indeed, until Germany’s blood-line citizenship laws were relaxed in 2000, even children born in Germany to immigrant parents could not become citizens.

Oktay Demirel says this created a gulf that he sees reflected in the resentful attitudes of many young Turks today.

“They have their own racist ideas – they say, ‘If the Germans don’t want us … we’re not going to integrate. If they want me to speak German, I’m going to speak Turkish.”

And the gulf can be seen in the statistics. Nearly one-third of Germany’s Turks have no secondary-school diploma. Just 14 percent qualify to go to university. Some 16 percent are dependent on welfare – twice the share of native Germans. They are also twice as likely to be unemployed.

Sarrazin seizes on such figures to bolster his argument that Muslim communities are a drag on the nation.

The flip side is that, with the right policies, these communities are a source of great potential in an ageing nation country – a view The Economist took earlier this year when it wrote that “a country in demographic decline cannot afford such waste.” 

Integration debates, suggests Ulrich Raiser, from the Office of the Commissioner for Integration and Migration in Berlin, have a habit of turning hysterical quickly.

In fact, a sober look at the statistics shows that, though grim, they are getting better, he says.

“Until 10 years ago, you could not speak of a real integration policy in Germany. Yes, criminality is still higher among immigrant youths … and the immigrant school drop-out rates are much too high. But given that we have a lot of catching up to do, things are actually improving,” Raiser said.

Ozturk Kiran, 36, a placement officer in a job center, asks that fellow Germans inclined to listen to Sarrzin consider the longer term benefits of immigration.

“It was a benefit to bring in workers,” Kiran, whose parents were manual guest workers from Turkey, said. “But when their work was done, they started to be seen as a cost. You have to look at the long term balance.

“For me, things are getting better,” he continued. “I finished my university, I’m working, my wife is working. My children will have more possibilities than my father and mother.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Satish Chandra on 09/10/2010 - 01:56 am.

    I am India’s expert in strategic defence, the father of India’s strategic program, including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and the world’s greatest behavioral scientist, acknowledged in such terms (my biography is in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America, 2010 and earlier editions and Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, 2010 and earlier editions). A radical reformulation of genetics is in my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.’, which can be found by a Google search with the title and discussions of genetic superiority-inferiority such as the genetic inferiority of whites compared to Indians (this inferiority of whites was acknowledged by B. F. Skinner, voted by American psychology department chairpersons as one of the two most influential psychologists of all time; see my letter to the press dated April 28, 2006 in my blog), including Indian Muslims. This is what I wrote in a published letter, dated July 21, 2001, to the U.S. press:
    “Dear Editor: The “village idiot” [as a New York Times columnist called him] in the White House, while building a National Missile Defense, plans to bring the number of U.S. strategic warheads down to perhaps 1,500 or even less. A decade ago, Israel’s nuclear arsenal was estimated at close to a thousand warheads and now it is probably more. Israel has nuclear-armed cruise missiles with ranges in the thousands of miles on naval vessels. It was said a decade ago that Israel can do whatever the U.S. and Russia can do with nuclear weapons. A world in which Israel has as many, or more, nuclear warheads as the U.S. or Russia is not a world anyone would want to live in. A prime minister of India (P. V. Narasimha Rao) said the nuclear weapons in the world were enough to destroy the world 20,000 times over. Though mistaken, this statement illustrated what has kept the world from dissolving into chaos. The Israelis are less stupid than India’s prime ministers and a world in which their nuclear strength is greater than that of the U.S. or Russia (by controlling the U.S., they in effect control the U.S. arsenal also and their control increases with time) will be a world of unimaginable evil. The U.S. and Russia should be building UP their nuclear arsenals (with weapons of a different kind), not building them down and, even more importantly, removing the control of Israel and its friends over the United States …”. (Continued)

  2. Submitted by Satish Chandra on 09/10/2010 - 01:58 am.

    (ContinueIn another published letter, dated August 1, 2001, I added: “As a result of the above letter, “…the administration has indefinitely deferred seeking Senate ratification of…the 1993 nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia…” (New York Times, July 29 ’01, page 14 wk, editorial)”.
    In a published letter, dated September 15, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “The worst act of terrorism against the United States is the planting of nuclear weapons in the largest U. S. cities by Israel and its friends in the U. S. (see letters below) and those who harbor them are the worst enemies of the United States. There is a leadership vacuum in Washington and the military ought to fill it. If there are any patriots in the U. S. Congress who would like to impeach this president for high treason, they should speak up. This president’s heart may be in the right place ( see the New York Times, September 15 ’01, page A15 ) but he is a captive of Israel and its friends in the U. S. and has no freedom of speech or action. All countries in the world should provide their air space and basing facilities to U. S. forces moving to strike Israel. An international police force under U. N. auspices should be readied to take control of Washington, if necessary, to prevent mischief by Israel and its friends in the U. S.” In a published letter dated May 9, 2001 to the U.S. press, I wrote: “Dear Editor: Giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] the task of dealing with nuclear terrorism is fine and good. If it is known that bombs have been planted under the World Trade Center, the first thing to do will be to (continued)

  3. Submitted by Satish Chandra on 09/10/2010 - 01:59 am.

    (Continued) the first thing to do will be to evacuate the building. It is a certainty that New York City is the first of the largest cities in which Israel and its friends in the U.S. have planted nuclear bombs (see below). Before evacuating New York City or Washington, an effort ought to be made to trace the bombs. Seymour Hersh (see below) ought to be asked what he knows about the locations of the bombs, from whom he learnt of them, who else knows about them (certainly, people at the New York Times will know about them, as will heads of major organizations that are friends of Israel)–and all those people should be asked the same questions. To generate the necessary pressure on Israel’s friends in the U.S.–so they will be forthcoming with information–the media blackout of the matter will have to be ended. The emphasis should be on locating the bombs, not dealing with the effects of the explosions after they have gone off (as FEMA would do)”. In a published letter, dated, May 19, 2001, to the U.S. press I wrote: “The exceedingly coy approach of politicians to this foremost of all security issues (above) shows that the armed forces will have to take the initiative in the matter. Sen. Kennedy urged (on NBC ‘Meet the Press’ on May 13 ’01) paying “greater heed to nuclear terrorism”–meaning the matter above– than to missile defense (have any envoys been sent regarding it around the world?) but his is a voice in the wilderness. The military can step in (see letter dated November 21 ’00, below) simply via INFORMATION–thoroughly inform and educate current and past military personnel in the above matter and reach out to the public at large via its own media–print, radio and ads in the general media (such as “Do you know nuclear weapons have been planted in New York City and Washington, D.C. by U.S. enemies?”)”. In a published letter, dated May 25, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “The soon-to-be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is someone almost certainly involved in the planting of nuclear bombs in the largest U.S. cities. Let us hear something about it from Mr. Bush, from the armed forces, from the press. Mr. Bush has often made a point of emphasising that he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. As such, is it not his obligation to ensure that the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee does not go to someone involved in planting nuclear bombs in the largest U.S. cities? It is well within his power to ensure this does not occur. No such person should even be a member of the Armed (continued)

  4. Submitted by Satish Chandra on 09/10/2010 - 02:00 am.

    (Continued) Services Committee. Or of the U.S. Senate. Mr. Bush should have refused to accept an honorary doctorate from Yale which is headed by a member of a criminal group, or have his wife stay at his home, or provide Federal funds to it and other such universities. He should return the honorary doctorate given to him. Mr. Bush belittled the importance of titles while paying tribute to a Texas “kingmaker” but does he not know how the kingmaker he had in mind (see letters dated April 13 ’01 and February 16 ’01, below) lives? Which of the “desperate rationalizations”–as the New York Times called them–will he offer now? While Mr. Bush has been making his “Jew-free Cabinet” (see letter dated February 16 ’01), this criminal group has been grabbing presidentships of the major universities in the Northeast and elsewhere (see Addendum dated December 12 ’00, below). If he steadfastly refrains from appointing a single member of this criminal group to his administration, it will matter; otherwise his “Jew-free Cabinet” is mere tokenism and will make no difference to the ever increasing control of the United States by this criminal group”. In a published letter, dated May 28, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “There should be no transfer of the Senate’s committee chairmanships, etc., until the issue of the membership of the Senate of those involved in planting nuclear bombs in the largest U.S. cities has been resolved. The executive branch can take action that will lead to the end of the membership of the U.S. Senate of such persons. If they so wish, the concerned committees of the Senate can also start hearings on the continued Senate (Continued)

  5. Submitted by Satish Chandra on 09/10/2010 - 02:02 am.

    (Continued) membership of such persons and their possible expulsion. But the executive branch can act whether or not the Senate does. With all his talk of humility, Mr. Bush may need a reminder that he is now co-equal on the one hand with the Supreme Court and, on the other, with both houses of Congress combined. Since the power of the state is the power to compel, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces his power is even greater.” In a published letter, dated February 22, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “When the U. S. Secretary of State goes to Israel, he will talk about ‘releasing taxes to Palestinians’. Should he not talk about Israel’s planting of nuclear weapons in U. S. cities?” In a published letter, dated February 16, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote :”On February 14, Mr. Bush said “The National Guard and reservists will be more involved in homeland security, confronting acts of terror and disorder our enemies may try to create”, getting ready to ‘confront’ the planting of nuclear weapons in the largest U. S. cities by Israel and its friends in the U. S. (letter dated January 17, ’01, below). But the very next day he slid back and said what he said before (see letter dated January 27 ’01, below): “America will set its own priorities, so that they’re not set by our adversaries or the crisis of the moment”. Clearly, Mr. Bush is a puppet in the hands of his staff and the briefing–not the “crisis”–of the day. Were Lincoln and Washington such puppets? Mr. Bush seems incapable of providing leadership; it remains to be seen if the U. S. Senate can (Gen. Powell can but he is not president). The purpose of my letter dated November 21 ’00, below, was to prevent the ethnic group referred to there gaining formal control of the United States. Mr. Bush becoming president has to be an interim step (Mr. Bush and his associates know that the fact that he is president is due to the letters below as, for example, was “the huge Christmas tree” in the Texas House of Representatives chamber from where he addressed the nation–see Addendum dated December 17 ’00 to letter dated December 5 ’00 below– and the “Jew-free Cabinet” referred to by a columnist in New York Post of January 3 ’01; see letter dated December 5 ’00 below).” In a published letter dated February 7, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “Mr. Bush has defined his “adversaries” strictly by race & has brought Gen. Powell to heel. Next perhaps he will accuse African-Americans of planting China’s nuclear weapons all over the United (continued)

  6. Submitted by Satish Chandra on 09/10/2010 - 02:03 am.

    (Continued) States.” In a published letter, dated January 27, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “The “village idiot” (New York Times, December 26 ’00, page A31) in the White House keeps sliding back, saying at Gen. Powell’s swearing-in something about his “adversaries” setting the agenda. Those who have planted nuclear weapons in the largest U. S. cities (below) are NOT his adversaries?” In a published letter, dated January 17, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “Several years ago, the journalist Seymour Hersh published a book titled “The Samson Option” regarding Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Samson is a Biblical character who brought down a building on top of his enemies as well as himself. The title of the book referred to the fact that Israel and its friends in the U.S. have planted nuclear weapons in the largest U.S. cities, to be exploded if necessary. The planting of these weapons is not a terrorist threat but ongoing terrorist acts. Have the outgoing president–who knows this fact–and the U.S. media done their duty to the U.S. public in this matter? How would the President-Elect’s national security team deal with these terrorist acts?” In a published letter, dated January 18, 2001, to the U.S. press, I wrote: “Should the outgoing president not be indicted for complicity in these terrorist acts and in the mind-boggling crimes that Israel and its friends in the U.S. have been able to perpetrate by means of these terrorist acts?”

Leave a Reply