FaithWorld

German commentaries on Bundesbank’s Sarrazin after Jewish, Muslim remarks

bundesbank 1 (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.”

German Jews want central banker sacked for comments on Jews and Muslims

sarrazin (Photo: Thilo Sarrazin at the presentation of his book in Berlin, August 30, 2010/Fabrizio Bensch)

Germany’s Jewish community has urged the central bank  to sack a board member who polarised the nation by making disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants and asserting that Jews have a particular genetic makeup.

Dieter Graumann, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said on Tuesday that Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin was out of line, even as polls showed many Germans support his views.

Sarrazin, 65, has published a book — Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany does away with itself) — in which he argues Muslim immigrants are undermining German society, refusing to integrate and sponging off the state, according to excerpts in the media.

French fast food chain expands halal-only outlets after sales double in trial

quick 1A French fast food chain announced on Tuesday it would almost triple its line of halal hamburger restaurants because sales had doubled in a trial that sparked a heated debate about the integration of Muslims.

The Quick chain of 358 restaurants around France said it would boost its halal-only outlets to 22 on Wednesday after the trial in eight areas with a strong Muslim population also saw a doubling of customers and a rise in the amounts they spent. Here’s their communique in French. (Photo: Halal-only Quick restaurant in Roubaix, northern France, February 18, 2010/Pascal Rossignol)

Quick, which is a challenger to the U.S. hamburger chain McDonald’s and runs franchises in seven other countries including Belgium, Russia and Algeria, said the move was purely commercial.

New Yorkers see the right to build Islamic center, but also want it moved

mosque signsNew York voters contradicted themselves over a planned Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site, with majorities saying both that Muslims have the right to build one but that they should be forced to move it, a poll issued on Tuesday finds.

Fifty-four percent of those polled believe Muslims have the right to build the center and mosque near “Ground Zero” because of American freedom of religion, but a similar 53 percent said that right should be denied because of the sensitivities of relatives of those killed on September 11, 2001. (Photo: Demonstrators in front of theIslamic center  site in New York , August 25, 2010/Lucas Jackson)

The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,497 New York state registered voters from August 23 to 29, at the height of the controversy that Republicans who oppose the mosque have seized on for a political edge over Democrats ahead of November 2 mid-term elections. Read the full story here.

Obama says not worried by “rumors” that he is a Muslim

obamaA public opinion poll showing Americans are increasingly convinced, wrongly, that he is Muslim does not trouble him, President Barack Obama said on Sunday.

“It’s not something that I can, I think, spend all my time worrying about it,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News, dismissing the results of a recent Pew Research Center survey. (Photo: President Barack Obama in New Orleans, August 29, 2010/Jim Young)

“I’m not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating out there. If I spend all my time chasing after that, then I wouldn’t get much done,” he said in the interview (NBC video here — these comments start at 08:33)

Tajik leader wants children brought home from Muslim religious schools abroad

madrasaThe president of mostly Muslim Tajikistan has urged parents to withdraw their children from religious schools abroad, an appeal reflecting fears of radical Islam gaining ground in the Central Asian nation. President Imomali Rakhmon, in televised remarks to textile factory workers in a town near the border with Afghanistan, said he was concerned Tajik children attending such schools could return home as “terrorists”. (Photo: Koran students in Pakistani madrasa in Peshawar, September 11, 2006/Ali Imam)

“All parents who have sent their children to be educated at religious schools abroad — I would like to ask and urge you to bring them back to their homeland, because most of these schools are not religious,” Rakhmon said on Tuesday.  “Your children will become extremists, terrorists, and will turn into enemies and traitors of the Tajik nation.”

Most Tajiks cannot afford it, but sending a child to study in a nation such as Saudi Arabia is a source of prestige, and returning students are often granted a great deal of respect. Analysts say deepening economic hardship and social problems are pushing Tajiks toward radical Islam, threatening stability in the otherwise secular nation of seven million.

German govt calls Bundesbanker’s remarks about Muslims offensive

sarrazinGerman 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.

NY Islam uproar shows lack of Muslim leaders, prompts more interfaith support

center support 2 (Photo: Demonstrators for and against the proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque in front of the site in New York, August 25, 2010/Lucas Jackson)

Among the most visible supporters of a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near the World Trade Center site have been the city’s Jewish mayor and a libertarian congressman from faraway Texas.

Notably absent from the controversy has been a nationally recognizable Muslim American leader in the style of the late Martin Luther King Jr. who spoke for blacks in the civil rights movement, Cesar Chavez who represented Latino migrant workers or, however briefly, Harvey Milk who stood up for gay rights.

Muslim scholars and political groups have spoken up forcefully in defense of the proposed $100 million cultural center, saying it should be protected by basic tolerance and the constitutional right to freedom of religion. But the Muslim statements have failed to capture national attention, much the way their repeated condemnations of terrorism and specific attacks by Islamist extremists have failed to reverberate in the American consciousness.

What would a compromise in NY Muslim centre dispute look like?

nymosque 1One requirement for a reasonable debate is to define the terms being used. The emotional dispute over the planned Cordoba House in New York, in which supporters and opponents are struggling over how to even describe it, is a case in point. Will the boxy modern building that developers have presented and local zoning boards have accepted be a Muslim cultural centre including a mosque? Or, as critics allege, a “Ground Zero mosque”, a term that evokes visions of  domes and minarets rising over the ruins of the World Trade Center. The facts speak for the first option, which is why we have chosen it for our description of this project.

A new element of confusion has entered the debate with calls for a compromise in this dispute. New York Governor David Patterson started this last week, saying that moving the project away from its proposed location would be a “a magic moment in our history” and offering state help to find a new site. He bemoaned the emotional level of the debate on Tuesday: People can’t hear each other anymore … I find it heart-wrenching. I hate to see New Yorkers squaring off against each other.”

nymosque 2New York’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan unexpectedly stepped in to welcome Paterson’s proposal and offer his services as a mediator. He first seemed to support the call for moving the project, but some media thought that seemed less clear after he met Paterson on Tuesday. No matter how sincere their intentions are, their effort to find common ground here is fraught with complications. A central problem, the  lay Catholic magazine Commonweal in New York argued, is that “calls for the Muslim organizers to change their plans out of ‘sensitivity,’ however well-meaning, would allow the prejudices of some to define the terms of freedom for others.”

NYC Muslims want more space to pray/ Latest links to Islamic center dispute

mosque space 1 (Photo: Manhattan building now on site of proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque, August 17, 2010/Lucas Jackson)

Muslims in lower Manhattan who have prayed in a crowded basement or in the streets say they are not looking for confrontation with opponents of a new mosque. They simply need the space.

Some New Yorkers traumatized by the September 11, 2001 attacks have emotionally opposed a proposed Muslim community center and mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. Republican politicians seeking to wrest control of Congress from Democrats in November elections have seized on the issue.

The controversy has sucked in President Barack Obama and stirred debate about the meaning of religious freedom in a nation founded in part on that principle. Competing rallies for and against the Muslim project are planned to mark this year’s ninth anniversary of the attacks.