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Germany

German central bank official under fire over anti-immigrant slurs

Chancellor Angela Merkel and other politicians have lashed out at controversial Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin after he reportedly said Turkish, Arab and African immigrants were making Germany "more stupid."

Women wearing head scarves and carrying plastic bags

Sarrazin has made offensive remarks about immigrants

German politicians have expressed consternation at a racist outburst by the central bank's board member and former Berlin senator, Thilo Sarrazin.

Thilo Sarrazin, SPD member and Bundesbank board member

Sarrazin drew flak for disparaging remarks about Turkish and Arab communities

Sarrazin was quoted by German media as telling a gathering of businessmen on Thursday, June 10, that Germany was "becoming on average more stupid" because "Turkish, near and Middle Eastern and African" immigrants were poorly educated.

"There is an increase in population groups with different levels of intelligence," the 65-year-old was quoted as saying. "Intelligence is passed on from parents to children. It is about 80 percent hereditary."

Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that such sweeping statements were "stupid and pointless."

She conceded, however, that it was true that the academic qualifications of pupils from immigrant communities needed to be improved, adding that the key to that was "mastering the German language."

"If we promoted and demanded that, then those coming to live in Germany would have great opportunities and they would enrich our lives," Merkel said.

Criticism across party lines

Turkish women and children at a Turkish-Islamic community center in Berlin

Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany

The leader of the opposition Green pary, Claudia Roth, also criticized Sarrazin.

“I wonder how much longer the Bundesbank is prepared to tolerate such an agitator and right-wing populist on its board,” she told the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper.

Roth said that for the Bundesbank – one of the country's most important public institutions – having a leading member with such an attitude was untenable.

She also said the opposition Social Democratic Party – of which Sarrazin is a member – must also ask themselves whether and how long they were ready to accept him in their own ranks.

A prominent SPD member, Michael Mueller, has meanwhile said that “the renewed provocation by Sarrazin was without question intolerable.” He said Sarrazin had already been warned to restrain himself but that he had apparently not learnt his lesson.

Not the first time

The banker caused a row last year after he made disparaging remarks in a magazine interview about Berlin's large Turkish and Arab communities.

Sarrazin had to apologize for saying that many of Berlin's Arab and Turkish immigrants have "no production, apart from fruit and vegetable trading."

Meanwhile, the Bundesbank has distanced itself from Sarrazin's remarks.

"The opinions expressed were personal," said Susanne Kreutzer, spokeswoman for the Bundesbank. "We cannot comment."

The central bank's president Axel Weber said last year that the bank's reputation had been hurt by Sarrazin's remarks.

rb/dpa/Reuters

Editor: Toma Tasovac

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