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Thilo Sarrazin: Racist or provocateur?

Central Bank executive Thilo Sarrazin launched his new book "Germany is doing away with itself" on Monday. Deutsche Welle has covered the controversial banker and received many responses from readers.

Thilo Sarrazin, a member of the Bundesbank board, waits prior to a news conference in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010.

Reader letters about Thilo Sarrazin have poured in

Germany is on the decline - at least according to Central Bank board member Thilo Sarrazin.

Primarily to blame, according to Sarrazin, is a failed immigration policy, with emphasis on the integration of Muslim immigrants. With their higher birth rates, he thinks Germany could become a Muslim-controlled nation in the long term, if no measures are taken to prevent such events.

In recent interviews, Sarrazin drew criticism for statements such as "studies show that there are common genetic roots among Jews living today. That is a fact."

The leadership of the Social Democrats (SPD) political party, of which Sarrazin is a member, is now in talks to remove him from its ranks, and the Central Bank is also discussing the removal of the high-ranking executive. This topic caused several among our listeners and readers to write in with their thoughts.

Freedom of speech

Many defended Sarrazin against the demands for his immediate dismissal by the outraged German public. For example, Albert from Canada wrote in to the English department: "What happened to free speech? Every time comments are made that some members of the public find 'not to their liking' they scream bloody murder."

Similarly, Brigitte wrote in from France: "Let's not adopt the Islamic habit of issuing a fatwa against anyone who's exercising his right of freedom of speech - especially when his comments concern us all."

Every day DW receives new reader mail, but on this issue the response has been prodigious. For example, while the English department might regularly receive 50 e-mails per week, on the topic of Sarrazin we received 50 per day.

"The truth has to be told: Germany has been infected, a lot of times, with anti-Semitism. But this time Sarrazin only said the plain truth, the simple facts, and no one should be against him," Tzippy from Israel wrote in.

'He says what most of us are thinking'

Ayguel Oezkan speaking with Thilo Sarrazin

German-Turkish politician Ayguel Oezkan said Sarrazin's book was splitting society

Other comments, however, were more polemic in nature: "I flew away from France because it became a Muslim state. I wish France had someone like Mr. Sarrazin to tell the truth out loud," reader Charles wrote.

Stanislav from Slovakia also shared his fears on the subject: "I am 100 percent convinced that what Mr. Sarrazin has said publicly, millions of Germans and other EU citizens have been sharing alike secretly at the family table."

"Sarrazin has the right idea" - this sentiment pretty much sums up the perspective of the German-speaking readers and listeners who wrote in.

For example, Hans Lauterfeld of Mexico: "In what other country would immigrants be so wooed and feted than in Germany? Is it too much to expect that immigrants should adapt to the host nation and not vice versa? I live abroad and it is not just a matter of course, but also of courtesy, to learn the local language."

Herbert Fuchs, of Finland wrote, pointing out, "It is true that the immigration policy of the past was useless. Even now we can see the undesirable situation in Germany where the grandchildren of guest workers and German-Russians are still estranged because they've had no opportunity for meaningful education."

Because Sarrazin speaks from the heart, he gets the approval of Franz Mitterndorfer from Thailand: "The fact that Mr. Sarrazin could be labeled a racist for his opinions, and placed in the fascist camp, is one of the reasons I moved to Thailand. Free expression of opinion is no longer possible in Germany."

Not seeing eye-to-eye

On the page of the Arabic service, Sarrazin is the number one topic, but their opinion of him is less than favorable. As one Facebook user, Hayfa, wrote, "Muslims are not lazy. Muslims take over the work that the Germans don't want to do themselves. Without immigrants and foreign workers, Germany wouldn't have achieved what it has today, in terms of cleanliness and progress."

In more pensive tones, user Yuri also wrote in. "I did not agree with the statements of Mr. Sarrazin, but I think that of the Muslim communities in Germany, certainly very few have been integrated. They prefer to live in parallel societies."

The Turkish opinion was more unanimous: The SPD must kick Sarrazin out as soon as possible, wrote several readers, addding that the issue should have been covered sooner and that it was a mistake to ever give Sarrazin a second chance.

Author: Friederike Schulz/sjt
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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