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German politician stirs controversy with his inflammatory views on Muslims and Jews

Whip It Up

By Stephen Lowman, reporting from Hamburg

What book is rocking German politics? Deutschland schafft sich ab, or “Germany Is Self-Destructing.“

The author, Thilo Sarrazin, is a prominant politician who was once the finance minister for the city of Berlin and currently sits on the board of Germany’s central bank. He may not have that job for long.

It’s not his views on the economy that are causing such a stir. His rants on the sensitive subjects of immigration and Judaism — both in the new book and in interviews promoting it — have caused political leaders and newspaper editorials to call for his resignation.

In the book, Sarrazin argues that Germany is supposedly on the demise thanks to Muslim immigrants. His comments are so controversial even the most jaded politicos will find it hard not to wince.

The website The Local excerpts this passage: "There is no other religion with such a flowing transition to violence, dictatorship, and terrorism,“ he writes, referring to Islam. He later says that Muslim immigrants are “associated with taking advantage of the social welfare state and criminality."

In another passage, published in Der Spiegel, Sarrazin, 65, comments on demographic trends.

“It is absolutely realistic that the Muslim population, through a combination of a higher birth rate and continuation of immigration, could grow by 2100 to 35 million" in Germany. He then goes on: "I don't want the country of my grandchildren and great grandchildren to be largely Muslim, or that Turkish or Arabic will be spoken in large areas, that women will wear headscarves and the daily rhythm is set by the call of the muezzin. If I want to experience that, I can just take a vacation in the Orient."

His choice of words inside the book are only part of the story. In a recent interview he said that “a large number of Arabs and Turks in (Berlin)...have no productive function other than in the fruit and vegetable trade."

The quote that may do him in was this one in an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag published over the weekend: "All Jews share a certain gene; Basques have certain genes that differentiate them from others.”

Talk of a Jewish gene, reminiscent of the language used by the Nazis, was finally too much for some.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is not in the same political party as Sarrazin, is said to be “irate.“

"The statements from Mr. Sarrazin are completely unacceptable," she told a German broadcaster. "They are exclusionary in a way that shows contempt for entire groups within our society. For me, the worst part is that by confronting the issue the way he does, he makes a discussion of that issue much more difficult."

It remains to be seen if Sarrazin can hold on to his job. But thanks to advance orders, the book is number one on Amazon's German website.

By Stephen Lowman  |  August 30, 2010; 11:52 AM ET
Categories:  Whip It Up  
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