A German central banker, Thilo Sarrazin, whose outspoken comments on race and religion sparked a fierce national debate unexpectedly quit the Bundesbank board on Thursday evening, sparing Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Christian Wulff and Bundesbank President Axel Weber a messy legal and political battle.
But Sarrazin, 65, made it clear that he will not go away and plans to use his new-found fame to press forward with the issues tackled in his best-selling book: that Muslims are undermining German society and threatening to change its character and culture with their higher birth rate. Whether Germans like his views or not, there is no denying that Sarrazin has struck a chord.
"It seemed to me to be too risky...to try to push forward against the entire political establishment and 70 percent of the media," Sarrazin told hundreds of people at a book reading in Potsdam near Berlin. "That would have been arrogant and wouldn't have worked. That's why I'm making this strategic retreat now and will tackle the issues that are important to me."
Despite widespread condemnation from political leaders, opinion polls showed there is widespread public support for at least some of Sarrazin's observations in his bestselling book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" ("Germany does away with itself").
Some of his book's more explosive passages include:
* "In every European country, due to their low participation in the labour market and high claim on state welfare benefits, Muslim migrants cost the state more than they generate in added economic value. In terms of culture and civilisation, their notions of society and values are a step backwards."