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German banker comments raise concerns about new 'intellectual racism'

German banker and Bundesbank member Thilo Sarrazin caused a stir yesterday with remarks widely perceived as anti-Semitic. This comes on the heels of his disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants.

By Staff writer / August 30, 2010

German banker Thilo Sarrazin speaks during the presentation of his book 'Deutschland schafft sich ab' (Germany does away with itself) in central Berlin, Monday, August 30.

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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A German central banker, who stirred controversy last week with disparaging remarks about Muslims living in Germany, is now being pressured to resign following his comment yesterday – widely perceived as anti-Semitic – that “all Jews share a certain gene.”

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Thilo Sarrazin, a member of the left-leaning Social Democrats, a former finance minister of Berlin and current board member of Germany’s Bundesbank, said a “Jewish gene” made Jews “different from other people” ahead of today’s launch of his new book, “Germany Does Away With Itself: How We are Risking the Future of our Nation.”

The book critiques immigration policy in Germany, a hot topic around Europe, and makes genetic arguments about intelligence linked to ethnicity, suggesting that immigrants are not as gifted as Germans and that the country is losing its identity, becoming “smaller and stupider.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in yesterday saying the remarks were “utterly unacceptable” and that Mr. Sarrazin is likely to come before the Bundesbank board – though previous attempts to remove the banker from what is an independent body have failed. Last fall Sarrazin said the birthrate of Muslims threatened Germany’s future and that he wished that it was “Eastern European Jews” that were reproducing quickly since “their IQs are 15 percent higher than that of the German people."

A new 'intellectual racism' in Germany

The controversy comes amid a gradual mainstreaming of anti-Islamic feeling in Europe, including inflammatory depictions and often exaggerated projections about a continent on the verge of becoming a “Eurabia,” as the genre is often called, say analysts.

Kenin Kolat, head of the German Turkish Federation described Sarrazin as representing “the climax of a new intellectual racism that damages Germany’s reputation abroad.” Jewish leaders said Sarrazin’s views were a reprise of Nazi racial ideology, and that “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,” according to Stephan Kramer, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

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