Thilo Sarrazin, a director on the board of Germany's Central Bank, who caused a monumental stir by accusing immigrants and Muslims of diluting his country's intellectual and economic strength, was on Friday sacked from the Bundesbank's Governing Board.

In a book entitled Germany is Destroying Itself, published earlier this week, Mr. Sarrazin repeatedly criticises both Germany's Muslim and Jewish populations arguing that poorly educated immigrants are making Germany “dumber”. He says Muslims have more problems assimilating in Europe than other immigrants and Jews “all share a particular gene”.

In a Germany still very sensitive about anything concerning the Jews because of its World War II history when Adolf Hitler sent an estimated six million of them to their deaths in gas chambers, such remarks are considered totally beyond the pale. Chancellor Angela Merkel called Mr. Sarrazin's comments “completely unacceptable”.

This is the first time a Board member has been sacked by the Bundesbank in its 50-year history. President Christian Wulff, who said Mr. Sarrazin's remarks had damaged Germany's international reputation, has indicated he will approve of the sacking.

Mr. Sarrazin's remarks have been compared with those of Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders and underline a definite Islamophobic and anti immigrant trend in Europe. Mr. Sarrazin said Germany's economic strength and intelligence were undermined by immigration from Muslim countries and the higher fertility rate of such immigrants. “All Jews share a particular gene, Basques share a certain gene that sets them apart,” he said. Germany is home to about four million Muslims, most of Turkish origin, and about 280,000 Arabs.

“I don't want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live in a mostly Muslim country where Turkish and Arabic are widely spoken, women wear headscarves and the day is measured out by the muezzin's call to prayer,” he said.

His remarks have been condemned by almost every political figure in Germany, as well as Muslim, Jewish and Christian groups. At the same time they have received the backing of far-right groups such as the National Democratic party, as well as a substantial portion of television viewers and radio listeners, who praise Mr. Sarrazin for having the courage to address issues that are often brushed under the carpet.

“While it is true that nearly 10 per cent of the country's immigrant population fails to obtain a high school diploma [compared to 1.5 per cent for Germans] it is patently wrong to attribute it to genes,” said sociologist Hans Mueller.

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