BERLIN (Reuters) - German government leaders condemned a central bank executive on Sunday for making anti-Semitic remarks before the publication of his book on Monday that takes a critical look at Turk and Arab immigrants.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said Thilo Sarrazin was out of line for comments about Jews, remarks that were also criticised by Jewish leaders in the country responsible for the Holocaust.
“All Jews share a particular gene, Basques share a certain gene that sets them apart,” Sarrazin told Welt am Sonntag newspaper ahead of the release of his book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany does away with itself).
Sarrazin, a Bundesbank board member, denied he was stirring racism. He has faced heavy criticism for making disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants. Sarrazin has repeatedly created uproar for criticising Turks and Arabs in Germany.
“There’s no room in the political debate for remarks that whip up racism or anti-Semitism,” Westerwelle said.
“There are limits to every provocation and Bundesbank board member Sarrazin has clearly gone out of bounds with this mistaken and inappropriate comment,” Guttenberg added.
Stephan Kramer and Michel Friedman, leaders in Germany’s Jewish community, also criticised Sarrazin, 65, a member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and former finance minister in the city-state of Berlin.
“Someone who tries to define Jews by a genetic make-up is consumed by a racist mania,” Kramer said.
“Enough already!” Friedman wrote in Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “No more tolerance for this intolerance. It’s okay to provoke thought but enough of this baiting and defamation. We don’t need any hate preachers, especially in the Bundesbank.”
Almost 3 million people of Turkish origin and an estimated 280,000 of Arab extraction live in Germany.
Leaders in Sarrazin’s SPD have called for him to quit the party and resign from the Bundesbank.
Sarrazin’s comments have also embarrassed Bundesbank President Axel Weber, who some German leaders have backed to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as president of the European Central Bank next year.
The Bundesbank has tried to distance itself from his remarks, saying they are his personal opinions and not linked to his role at the bank. The central bank requires evidence of “serious misconduct” to bring about Sarrazin’s dismissal.
The central bank last year stripped Sarrazin of some of his duties. If the central bank’s board voted to remove Sarrazin, the move would then need the approval of the president.
In the book, Sarrazin argues that Muslims undermine German society, marry “imported brides” and have a bad attitude. He said young Muslim men were aggressive due to sexual frustration.
“Sadly, the huge potential for aggression in this group is obvious. The Arab boys can’t get at their Arab girls,” he said.
“In the end, they use the German girls from the underclass who are easier to get, and then they hold them in contempt because they’re so readily available.”
(Editing by Charles Dick)