Islamic culture is responsible for the failure of migrants of Muslim background to integrate into German society, controversial central banker Thilo Sarrazin said on Monday.
Speaking at the launch of his book, Germany Abolishes Itself: How We Are Risking The Future of Our Nation, Mr. Sarrazin said that Muslims had — alone amongst migrant groups — singularly failed to integrate into society and were more of a burden than a benefit.
“All major cultural and economic problems have concentrated themselves in the group of 5—6 million migrants from Muslim countries,” he said on Monday.
Mr. Sarrazin’s book, which also deals with contested scientific research claiming that intelligence is up to 80 per cent genetically determined, has caused outrage in Germany ahead of its official publication.
“With immigrants from Eastern Europe, India, Vietnam ... after the first generation there are no integration problems ... they are indistinguishable from the German population,” the 65—year—old former Berlin state finance minister said.
The taboo—breaking subject of Mr. Sarrazin’s book, as well as its controversial genetics element, has raised calls for the central bank board member to resign.
The banker has used the genetics theory to suggest that all segments of society cannot expect equal outcomes, even if consistently more money is spent on education and training — a view in direct contradiction to one of the central planks of Germany’s post—war social welfare state.
Mr. Sarrazin is a member of the centre—left Social Democratic Party (SPD), whose executive committee decided on Monday to launch proceedings to evict him from the party.
Chancellor Angela Merkel called his comments, reported on Sunday in a news interview, that there was such a thing as a “Jewish gene utterly unacceptable.
“I doubt if the chancellor has read my book,” Mr. Sarrazin retorted on Monday.
He referred to studies published in science journals Nature and the American Journal of Human Genetics which, he said, “reveal the common genetic roots of today’s European Jewry,” adding that the fact “carries neither a positive nor a negative connotation.
“A member of the board of the Bundesbank has the right, like every other citizen, to express himself on matters that don’t directly concern his duties,” Mr. Sarrazin said.
Bundesbank chief Axel Weber is expected to give a statement on the matter later on Monday.
Mr. Sarrazin’s thesis is that Germany’s demographic decline, coupled with the supposedly low educational attainment and cultural alienation of the Muslim immigrant population, will lead ultimately to the abolition of German culture.
“The departure of Germany from history is deeply worrying to me, he said.
Mr. Sarrazin’s speech was preceded by an introduction by equally controversial Turkish—German intellectual Necla Kelek, who believes that Islamic values have hindered the integration of Muslim immigrants into German culture.
“A responsible citizen has spoken bitter truths,” Ms. Kelek said, calling for a discussion of the book’s contents rather than moral issues.
“This book, despite the reaction, will change politics in this country,” she added.
Advance orders placed the book at the top of German sales charts, fuelled in part by the media furore over a series of excerpts, published in mass circulation daily Bild.
The head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims, Ayyub Axel Koehler, described Mr. Sarrazin as “the embodiment of the ugly German,” in an interview with German Press Agency dpa.
“Islamophobia in Germany now has a name: Thilo Sarrazin. He has caused serious and lasting damage to the reputation of our country with his racist and contemptuous comments,” Mr. Koehler said.