1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Stirring controversy

August 29, 2010

Central bank official Thilo Sarrazin, already under fire in Germany for using shock talk about the country's Muslim immigrants, has sparked a new uproar by saying that "all Jews share a common gene."

Thilo Sarrazin
Sarrazin's statements on Jews and Muslims have caused outrageImage: AP

German central bank executive Thilo Sarrazin has stirred fresh controversy over the weekend with discriminatory remarks concerning religious minorities.

"All Jews share a particular gene," Sarrazin said in an interview published on Sunday. "That makes them different from other peoples."

Sarrazin, who is currently promoting his book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" ("Germany does away with itself"), remained undeterred in expressing his views despite criticism and calls for his resignation from the board of the Bundesbank.

An ethnic Turk working at a fruit stand in Cologne
Sarrazin says Muslims in Germany do not contribute to the economyImage: DW

"The cultural peculiarities of the peoples is no myth, but determines the reality of Europe," Sarrazin told the newspapers Welt am Sonntag and Berliner Morgenpost.

Berlin's former finance chief has said in the past that Muslims living in Germany do not contribute to the country's economic prosperity, reducing their role to the running of fruit and vegetable stands.

He reiterated his view that Muslim immigrants all over Europe were integrating more poorly than other immigrant populations into the societies of their host countries.

In 2009, the central banker, who is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), had said he would prefer immigration "if it was by eastern European Jews with a 15-percent-higher IQ than the German population."

Wide criticism

The Jewish community in Germany reacted with indignation to Sarrazin's attempts at racial profiling.

Thilo Sarrazin next to the cover of this book "Deutschland schafft sich ab"
Sarrazin's book claims that immigration is a threat to GermanyImage: AP/DW-Fotomontage

"Whoever tries to define Jews by their genetic makeup, even when it is superficially positive in tone, is in the grip of a race mania that Jews do not share," said Stephan Kramer, secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in on Sarrizin's comments in an interview on ARD television, saying his remarks were "completely unacceptable" and "run down entire groups of society."

Merkel added that she was sure Sarrizin's remarks would be discussed within the Bundesbank.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also responded to Sarrazin's latest comments. He said statements "that promote racism or anti-Semitism have no place in political discourse."

While Sarrazin made reference in his interview to the alleged unique genetics of social groups, he also claimed he was not racist. It was not ethnicity, he said, but rather the culture of Islam that kept Muslims immigrants from integrating into European societies.

Radical speech

Roland Koch, the outgoing premier of the German state of Hesse, told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that Sarrazin was pushing himself into the margins of politics. Koch recognized that the banker was "addressing existing problems that society mustn't ignore," but added that he obviously appeared to be concerned only with pursuing "radical speech and the breaching of taboos."

Before Sarrazin's latest statements were published, the chairman of Germany's Turkish Federation had called for Sarrazin to be removed from his post. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany's integration commissioner Maria Boehmer expressed outrage at Sarrazin's statements.

Christian Gaebler of the SPD told news magazine Spiegel that if Sarrazin did not willingly leave the party, he and other members would "begin procedures to expel him from the party."

Sarrazin has claimed his views toe the party line. Other parties, he said, would prefer to see immigrants kicked out of Germany, whereas he claimed to advocate integration.

Author: David Levitz (AFP/AP/dpa)

Editor: Toma Tasovac