(Photo: Protestsers call Sarrazin a racist before his public reading in Potsdam, September 9, 2010/Fabrizio Bensch)
A German central bank board member who caused outrage with remarks about Muslim immigrants and Jews resigned on Thursday after coming under pressure from political leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Bundesbank said Thilo Sarrazin, 65, who accused Turks and Arabs of exploiting the welfare state, refusing to integrate and lowering the average intelligence, would leave his post at the end of the month.
Sarrazin confirmed he had stepped down during a book reading in Potsdam near Berlin. “I found it too risky in the current atmosphere … to stand up to the entire political and media establishment. That would be presumptuous and would not have worked,” he said. “So, a strategic retreat and now (I will) work on the topics that are important to me.”
He had already been relieved of some of his central bank responsibilities over remarks he made last year about immigrants but the strict independence of the central bank made it difficult to have him removed.
Sarrazin’s resignation, announced late on Thursday, means President Christian Wulff will no longer have to decide whether to approve the bank’s request to remove him, an awkward choice that threatened to expose Merkel to a backlash from conservative voters.
The Financial Times Deutschland newspaper wrote “Sarrazin does away with himself” — a play on the title of his new bestselling book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany does away with itself).