German commentaries on Bundesbank’s Sarrazin after Jewish, Muslim remarks
(Photo: German Bundesbank President Axel Weber at news conference after the bank decided to dismiss board member Thilo Sarrazin, 2 September 2010/Alex Domanski)
Germany’s Bundesbank has voted to dismiss board member Thilo Sarrazin, whose remarks about Muslim immigrants and Jews have divided the country. Following are extracts from Friday’s German newspapers on the central bank’s decision, which must still be approved by the German President Christian Wulff.
BILD (Conservative mass circulation)
“President Christian Wulff is in a horrible jam. If he signs the order to fire Sarrazin, he’ll be viewed by millions of Germans as just another one of those jaundiced political leaders … but if he doesn’t sign it, he’ll have the chancellor and the entire political establishment against him.
“But if Wulff decides to read the book himself, he’ll see that it’s based on a lot of well-documented truths about immigrants, education and Germany’s social state. And unfortunately an appalling, vulgar Darwinism that reduces every person to a hostage of their genetic makeup.
“The bottom line is: it’s not enough to sack him.”.
BERLINER ZEITUNG (Centre-left)
“It was hard enough for the bank to take this step under the leadership of Bundesbank President Axel Weber. In the end it was high time, because the former Berlin state finance minister Thilo Sarrazin simply went too far.
“But this doesn’t mean that the Sarrazin case is closed. Because Sarrazin is unlikely to accept this dishonourable discharge. The Bundesbank head must risk defeat in court because otherwise the row over Sarrazin would have gone on and on. If it had, Weber could have buried his ambitions for the top job at the European Central Bank once and for all. For politicians this verdict is a disgrace either way. Thilo Sarrazin should never have been turned loose on the Bundesbank.”
“After almost a week, the Bundesbank has done what the government and the German president suggested: they have sought the dismissal of board member Thilo Sarrazin. He will try and style himself as a martyr, which hopefully won’t work. Anyone who links the Bundesbank to crude theories about heredity, which do not draw a clear line to unutterable theories on degeneration, damages the bank and Germany.
“Weber had no choice but to get rid of Sarrazin. But it would have been better if he had played the ball straight back to politicians… If the finance minister, the chancellor and the president believe Sarrazin, who was chosen by politicians, to be intolerable, (they) should ensure that the process of appointing and above all dismissing board members is clear.”
“Weber should also have made quite clear himself why Sarrazin’s theories … are nonsense. If Weber and the chancellor complain again that Germany’s reputation abroad is being hurt, it will only reinforce the impression that Sarrazin was fired because he broke a taboo. Now there’s the charge that Weber leapt to follow the chancellor’s lead because of his candidacy to become the next president of the ECB. This allegation would disqualify him.”
FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (Conservative)
“The chancellor and the president … have turned a bastion of independence into a taker of orders and turned (Sarrazin’s) book into a matter of state. It’s evidently impossible to respond more modestly in Germany when someone knocks the fairytale that everything’s fine … on immigration and integration.”
“As a martyr of freedom of opinion and a chief witness to charges made by broad swathes of the population, Sarrazin will haunt them for a long time. Indignant comments from the likes of the interior minister that the problems described by Sarrazin have long been known sound like mockery in the ears of many people: if the problems have been known that long, why has so little been done to deal with them?
“The smell of burning some ascribe to Sarrazin has another source. There’s more than just a whiff of rebellion in the air against patronising behaviour and glossing things over. If the ‘people’s parties’ don’t take the concerns picked up by Sarrazin seriously, they will look for other advocates, who will not be muzzled by a petition to the German president.”
SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG (Centre-left)
“A large section of the political elite wants to send Sarrazin away to the Sahara or wherever the Saracens come from, the ones who once gave his family its name. Yet many of those distancing themselves from Sarrazin aren’t using arguments. They find it all simply so distasteful. For too long Germans thought they could leave it to immigrants to decide how far to integrate themselves or whether they want to do so at all. That has led to grievances that Sarrazin has correctly described.”
DIE WELT (Conservative)
“This will likely increase Sarrazin’s popularity. The breadth and depth of the support in opinion polls for Sarrazin’s theses make clear how uneasy Germans are across the political spectrum with the current integration situation…”
“Thanks to Sarrazin the debate on integration has now received the prominence it deserves.”