Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble distanced themselves from Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin after he excoriated immigrants as a burden on German society.
Sarrazin’s comments in a recent book, in which he claimed that immigrants from Turkey, the Middle East and Africa are making Germany “dumber,” are “not helpful at all” and “can be hurtful for a lot people,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters today. Bundesbank President Axel Weber should consider taking action against Sarrazin, though his options are limited, Schaeuble said.
“I would be ashamed if a leading member of my party expressed himself in this way,” Schaeuble, a Christian Democrat, said in Berlin. Social Democratic Chairman Sigmar Gabriel said he didn’t know why Sarrazin was still a member of his party, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.
Sarrazin’s new book, whose title translates as “Germany Eliminates Itself,” makes a case against immigrant groups in Germany and their impact on the country. A former finance minister for the city-state of Berlin, Sarrazin argues that immigrants from countries such as Turkey and Morocco depend on the state and bring down the country’s education level.
“I don’t want the country of my grandchildren and forefathers to be in broad swathes Muslim, where Turkish and Arabic is widely spoken, where women wear headscarves and where the daily rhythm of life is set by the call of the muezzins,” Sarrazin wrote in an extract published in Der Spiegel magazine on Aug. 22. Other extracts have been published in the best-selling Bild newspaper this week.
The book is Sarrazin’s “private affair” and the opinions he expresses are unrelated to his work at the Bundesbank, Susanne Kreutzer, a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt-based central bank, said in an e-mailed statement.
Sarrazin, who joined the Bundesbank in May 2009 after seven years as Berlin’s finance minister, came under a storm of criticism last October for an interview he gave in the journal Lettre International in which he said that most immigrant Turks and Arabs “keep producing more little girls in headscarves.”
He later apologized for the comments, which were investigated by the police. Bundesbank President Weber said they had damaged the central bank’s reputation.