German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s finance minister and spokesman have spoken out forcefully against disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants by a board member of the central bank, raising pressure on him to resign.
The Bundesbank’s Thilo Sarrazin, who has previously caused outrage with outspoken criticism of Turks and Arabs living in Germany, took aim at Muslims again in a new book which has been serialised in a popular daily newspaper this week. (Photo: Poster of Sarrazin at protest at the Bundesbank in Frankfurt against his anti-immigrant comments, October 13, 2009/Johannes Eisele)
Arguing that Muslims undermined German society, married “imported brides” and had a bad attitude, Sarrazin, a member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), has provoked a storm of criticism from the country’s main political parties.
On Wednesday, Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert said many people would find the remarks “offensive” and “defamatory”, and that the chancellor was concerned. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a member of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), told reporters he “would be ashamed if a leading member of my party had behaved this way,” when asked about the 65-year-old Sarrazin’s comments.
He stressed, however, the central bank was independent.