German Bundesbank wants 'racist' banker fired
Germany's central bank called on Thursday on the country's president to fire one of its board members after he called immigrants unproductive and said that Jews had a special "gene."
"The board of the Bundesbank decided unanimously today to ask the president of the republic to dismiss Dr. Thilo Sarrazin as a member of the board," said the bank, which does not have the right to dismiss Sarrazin itself.
In a new book, "Germany Does Itself In", Sarrazin said Muslim immigration and a high birth rate among Turkish immigrants would end up impoverishing Europe's biggest economy.
He also told a newspaper that "all Jews share a certain gene," a property he said was shared by the Basques. The comments have seen him widely branded as racist and anti-Semitic.
Ali Kizilkaya, head of Germany's Muslim Council, told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily on Thursday that Sarrazin was "Islamophobic" and that his comments were "almost frightening."
In October last year, Sarrazin had said that Turks were "conquering Germany in exactly the same way the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: with a higher birth rate."
"A large number of Arabs and Turks in this city (Berlin) ... have no productive function other than selling fruit and vegetables," he added.
His remarks have drawn fire throughout Germany, including from Chancellor Angela Merkel who called them "completely unacceptable", and European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet, who said Thursday they were "appalling."
The Bundesbank has also strongly distanced itself from Sarrazin -- his duties had already been reduced -- but it is is powerless to sack the 65-year-old because he is a political appointee.
President Christian Wulff said in a statement on Thursday that he would review the Bundesbank's request. Newspapers have interpreted recent comments as saying he would dismiss the banker.
A number of Germans came out in support of Sarrazin however, saying that Berlin's former finance chief had touched on subjects that were better discussed out in the open than ignored.
A poll of viewers by the news television N-24 found that 51 percent opposed Sarrazin being fired.
The head of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), of which Sarrazin is a member, said Wednesday he had received a flood of messages backing Sarrazin.
The government itself admits that the country's three-million-strong Turkish minority is badly integrated into German society.
According to official figures, nearly one in five young people without German nationality -- which many second and third generation Turks do not have -- leave school with no qualifications.
Fewer than one in 10 completes the Abitur -- the secondary school-leaving certificate similar to A-levels in Britain or the Baccalaureat in France -- and their risk of unemployment is twice as high.
Other figures show that people in Germany of Turkish origin are significantly more likely to be living below the poverty line.
A survey published by the weekly Die Zeit two years ago showed that more than half of residents of Turkish origin feel unwelcome in Germany.
Die Zeit said this week that Sarrazin "is in the process of becoming a national hero, exclusion from the Bundesbank board or the SPD could even confer on him the status of martyr."
The head of the Greens party, Renate Kuenast, acknowledged Thursday that the immigration issue caused her "concern as well," even as she distanced herself from Sarrazin's comments.
© 2010 AFP