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.
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Germany’s foreign and defense ministers also released condemnations of Sarrazin’s views. Bundesbank officials have said they can’t comment on what are “private matters” – though the Financial Times reports that Bundesbank chief Axel Weber, a frontrunner to take over the European Central Bank, is under pressure to discipline Sarrazin following Mr. Weber's return from a US Federal Reserve meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.Skip to next paragraph
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Misunderstood? or racist?
Yet a distance between official and popular sentiments in Germany were affirmed by such editorials in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten yesterday, suggesting Sarrazin “is only getting so much attention because he is saying what many people feel and experience every day.”
Sarrazin on Sunday argues he is misunderstood, “I am not a racist.” He said his attacks are not on Turks or Arabs but on “the culture of Islam.”
The pending book kicked up a firestorm last week as portions of it were serialized in newspapers, with passages such as this one: "I do not want the land of my grandchildren and great grandchildren to be predominantly Muslim, where Turkish and Arabic are spoken in broad sections of the country, where women wear a headscarf and where the daily rhythm of life is determined by the call of the muezzins."
Germany's population of 80 million comprises 3 million people of Turkish descent, 700,000 of whom are German citizens. Sarrazin says that in 90 years Germany will have only half of the native population figures it had in 1965. German federal authorities have disputed his claims, saying that second and third generations of immigrants are already showing significantly reduced birth rates as they integrate and are faced with sustaining their families in a European economy. Brookings Institution expert Justin Vaisse argues similar declines with immigrant birth rate in France, which has an estimated five million persons originating in states with a Muslim majority.