Bundesbank member shocks with racial theories

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Thilo Sarrazin, a Social Democrat politician and board member of the German Federal Bank, published his latest book on Monday (30 August), triggering a storm of disapproval over his racial and minority integration theories. He is now being threatened with dismissal both from his party and the Bundesbank.

For weeks before its publication on Monday, excerpts of the book 'Deutschland schafft sich ab' (Germany abolishes itself) had been appearing in the German press. The title refers to Germany's impending decline due to the growing number of its citizens who are allegedly a burden on the social welfare system, as well as intellectually sub-average.

Weekly magazine 'Der Spiegel' pre-printed an entire chapter on the negative effects of immigration, and tabloid newspaper Bild published several articles on Sarrazin's provocative arguments, such as the connection between Islam and terrorism.

The media hype around the book has been pervasive. It has involved media from all sides of the political spectrum, and broadsheets as well as tabloids.

The book focuses particularly on Muslim immigrants in Germany and their alleged lack of integration. Sarrazin speaks of a lack of respect for the state and its welfare system.

He also deplores a lack of intellectual performance in some ethnic groups' offspring and the negative long-term effects of non-selective immigration on the German state.

Sarrazin had previously aired similarly controversial opinions. In his book he sets about proving them by quoting statistics regarding immigration and ethnicity.

Although he has repeatedly been charged with twisting the figures to suit his theories, the author insists that most of what he says is politically neutral and merely factual.

For example, he writes that 93% of Turkish immigrants in Germany marry into their own ethnic group and infers from this that they refuse to integrate.

One of his most controversial comments, though, did not appear in the book but was made during an interview with 'Welt am Sonntag'.                                              

He said that all Jews shared a ''common gene,'' a comment that invokes the theory of heredity, racism and anti-Semitism in a country that is still particularly touchy in this respect.

On Monday evening the politician appeared on a popular German talk show where he defended his theories and further marketed his book.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) had already threatened to expel him. Following the release of the book, internal proceedings against him were launched on Monday.

The Federal Bank is also currently debating Sarrazin's future on its board. To dismiss a member is difficult as the bank is meant to be politically independent. It can only be done as a result of ''gross misconduct''.

Dismissal would require the majority of the board to vote against him, the federal government to confirm the decision and the German president to fire him.

Despite even German Chancellor Angela Merkel's severe critique of Sarrazin, the board has so far not filed a demand for dismissal.

In a press release the bank declared that Sarrazin was damaging its reputation with his discriminatory remarks, and announced plans to schedule a meeting with the rest of the board to decide their next steps.

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