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German Media Roundup: Sarrazin's radioactive immigration debate

The Local · 31 Aug 2010, 11:17

Published: 31 Aug 2010 11:17 GMT+02:00

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Sarrazin, who presented his controversial new book in Berlin on Monday, faces expulsion from the centre-left Social Democrats and losing his post at Germany’s central bank for saying Muslim immigrants threatened the country’s future and claiming Jews are genetically different than other people.

The cantankerous Bundesbank official, famous for his politically incorrect outbursts while serving as Berlin’s finance minister, had hoped to spark a debate about integration and immigration. But the consensus among Germany’s leading newspapers on Tuesday was that he had done neither himself nor the country’s political discourse any favours.

The Cologne daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger pointed to a pair of genuine "provocateurs," the Greens' Joschka Fischer and the Bavarian Christian Social Union’s Franz Josef Strauß, each of whom was at times controversial but who ultimately - unlike Sarrazin - energised the political debate.

“Democracy tolerates such challenges – indeed it needs them, for the provocateur poses uncomfortable questions, he brings out truths that some people don’t want to see. And ideally they are even entertaining.

“Thilo Sarrazin has nothing to do with this. And this Bundesbank board member with the pinched lips is certainly not entertaining.

“His truths are a precarious and well-worn mix of xenophobia, of murky statistical games ... Sarrazin is no provocateur, he is a demagogue.”

The left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung wondered if there was a silver lining to the Sarrazin affair: a reminder that racism did not always come in the form people expected.

“The Sarrazin case is a healthy shock for Germany. It is high time to rid ourselves of the illusion that racist convictions always arrive in bomber jackets and combat boots. As we see, they can also thrive splendidly in bankers’ suits and on executive floors.”

Unlike other opponents of Islam, Sarrazin was claiming not just the existence of a ‘clash of cultures’ but of cultural and social differences based on genetic differences. And it was this racial theory that was most disturbing for Germany, it wrote.

“What should we do when, 65 years after the ban of Mein Kampf a racial theory tract once again rises to be a bestseller?”

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Sarrazin had only himself to blame for his current predicament, however, emphasised the issues he raised needed to be addressed.

“Someone speaking of a Jewish gene in Germany can no longer be helped,” wrote the paper. “But tossing him into the camp of racists and anti-Semites will do little good.”

The FAZ said as long as the country’s political parties refused to address the issues of immigration and integration, German society would continue to be divided and people would turn away from politics.

“The debate about Sarrazin shows just how strong this alienation has already become,” the FAZ wrote.

The right-wing daily Die Welt concurred, saying Sarrazin had sabotaged the issues he was trying to draw attention to.

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“The true casualty of the Sarrazin debate is that citizens get the feeling politicians don’t even want to talk about integration,” commented the paper. “Sarrazin is already radioactive. Anyone who wants to defend him publicly now has to have a Muslim background.”

The centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung criticised Sarrazin’s comments, but warned against kicking him out of the SPD or relieving him of his post at the Bundesbank.

“Dismissal instead of dialogue doesn’t instil confidence and it would simply create a martyr who should have been better debated,” the Munich daily wrote. “But he highlighted a problem that will exist long after the outrage has subsided: the enormous integration deficit by Germany’s Muslim minority.”

The paper said, however, that Islam is not to blame for these problems, pointing instead to attitudes putting religion over the liberal values of the state.

“There’s no alternative to taking this path together with Muslims in Germany,” Süddeutsche Zeitung opined. “Integration is only possible when we avoid painting horror scenarios and give Muslims a real chance.”

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:04 August 31, 2010 by T Gonzaga
Sarrazin's comments harbor much truth and the truth is often difficult to hear. The real scandal is the zeal of those who seek to silence him. Toynbee once remarked that "civilizations die from suicide not murder." That, in essence, is what he is referring to. Though there is a harsh and fascist component to German history, there is also a glorious and enlightened aspect, as well as a culture that has come to terms with past intolerance and a disproportionate sense of cultural superiority. However, many of the most enlightened aspects of German (as well as French, English, Spanish etc.) culture are now being undermined and supplanted by immigrant waves that are disinclined to assimilate, because they see such assimilation as capitulation. England already allows Sharia courts in certain areas; disinheritance of women is inevitable as a result. Can censorship, religious intolerance of other faiths (as Muslim beliefs spread) theocracy and the compulsory burkha be far behind?

The real question is: How much intolerance are we willing to endure in the name of tolerance? As in the American novel "Up Dog Street," we may ultimately find that in our efforts at political correctness and tolerance, we unwittingly facilitate the birth and entrencment of an intolerant alien ideology that eventually spells the doom of all freedoms we hold dear. In essence, we arming our executioners by confusing tolerance with appeasement.
15:05 August 31, 2010 by lecturenotes2009
i think Sarazin should read this article too. More accurate, ground-based data.


we can see how many people immigrate to germany, and how many leave germany. and yes, the highest immigrants nowadays are from Bulgaria and Romania.

and yes, recently, German statistic office has issued the comprehensive study, underlining that the women from the second and third generation of women immigrants have no higher birth rate than germans, meaning, populiation shrinking will occur anyway, and as in spiegel clearly write, over population of turks and arabs will never happen.

just to refresh: http://www.thelocal.de/society/20100811-29073.html

funny funny funny
15:12 August 31, 2010 by William Thirteen
actually truth isn't difficult to hear - but racist demagoguery is difficult to listen to....

oh, and by "disinheritance" i assume you meant "disenfranchisement". Regarding the Sharia courts in the UK, they operate under the same provision in the Arbitration Act as Jewish Beth Din courts, resolving civil cases ranging from divorce to business disputes as alternative arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that BOTH parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

The Beth Din courts have existed in Britain for more than 100 years, but the Jews haven't yet taken over Britain....unless...wait...oh my God!!!
15:16 August 31, 2010 by Jibzy
@ T Gonzaga:

I have not entirely read what he said/wrote (due to the language barrier i must confess), but what I've read about it is that he painted all Muslims with the same brush. I have been in Germany for approx 2 years and can speak somewhat good German. I am also a Masters degree holder and i have many German friends as well (the bit with the integration thing). I've never thrown trash around Berlin nor ridden the s-bahn/u-bahn without a ticket. What i want to say is that I've done quite much to integrate, have never broken the law or anything which a native German might not like.

But since I praise a God or accept a prophet which Mr. Sarrazin does not, all my good deeds have been nullified. At least for him. What I've heard he says is that Muslims are incompatible with the German culture and are destroying the country. Apart from cleaning rooms and making coffee for Germans, I havent stolen any other job from the economy, nor am i taking any money from the Government to help with my housing, food, clothing, yet i pay a significant amount of my earnings to do this for a good number of Germans. Not that i am complaining... I'm proud that I could contribute to the economy by paying taxes which help this beautiful country become more beautiful. But the point is .. I'm a Muslim... tell me what I did wrong that pissed Sarrazin off SO much that he declared me invalid for this country?

I agree that there is a significant number of Muslims in Germany who have not played a constructive role in society here..but are they the 100% of Muslims?
15:28 August 31, 2010 by William Thirteen

thanks for the link to the Reiner Klingholz piece. it would make a good start for a reasoned discussion about the future of Germany and the role of immigration.


i am an immigrant to Germany like you, gainfully employed and happy to be here. I must confess though, i have occasionally been a Schwarzfahrer! I also accept the high taxes as I believe in the social safety net they provide for those of my fellows who have not been as lucky as i have been.
23:13 August 31, 2010 by BR549
Hopefully, there will be some other stupid situation take place to have all these trolls focus on a new topic. This Sarrazin story has "shot its wad"... both, pros and cons.
23:31 September 1, 2010 by Johnne
@Jibzy and William Thirteen, don´t think people like sarazin don´t know these integration levels you´re talking about-they just don´t care about it. I am black, I´m raising a family here and my wife is German, infact (an original bayerin) I´m happy, settled & I own my own firm here in München+ pay tax more than sarazin can imagine.
10:05 September 2, 2010 by RP_Lifer
Well said Gonzaga.
18:07 September 2, 2010 by mannheim316
What's wrong with the picture above? It seems to me the German flag should be bigger then the Turkish one after to all that picture taken in Berlin.
02:47 September 3, 2010 by vonSchwerin
It's obvious that Germany needs a frank public discussion on integration of immigrants. But it's too bad that this idiot had to be the one to point that out. Or at least the one to get attention for pointing it out.
14:32 September 4, 2010 by ww77ww
Indeed, it is a shame the careless bigmouth suit had to be the one to finally bring the mistakes of 50 years of mismanaged demographic policy to the front page.

Little German flag, big Turkish flag...very symbolic.
18:42 September 4, 2010 by mhdamro
its not that Arabs and turks are stupid , the fact is that Germany takes only the Stupid ones, gives them asylum ... and when an educated and skilled Arab or turk comes to work .... they refuse to give him a permit ......... look at the US ... the average " joe " is so stupid to take any meaningful work there .. thats why they import all the skilled workers from indea, turkey, and the arab world .........

So........ he has some right .. but that because of Germany's own STUPID policies ... they filter out the Intelligent ... and only allow the stupid ones to enter the country .. AND LIVE ON THE SOCIAL WELFARE of others ................ change your POLICIES .............
22:21 September 4, 2010 by Garth Rex
No one should be fired for expressing his/her honest opinion!


Freedom of speech and expression should be one of the most precious and fundamental rights in Germany today! For if we are to dismiss people, based on the free expression of ideas and opinions, even unpopular ones, how can we claim to have

progressed since the days of Adolph Hitler? In so doing we will end up in a regimented and oppressive state...where EVEREYONE has to think long and hard before expressing ANY opinion...where people have to be looking over their shoulders and second-guessing themselves...where they have to be fearful less, in expressing even a seemingly innocent opinion, they may inadvertently offend someone...Is this REALLY the direction in which modern German society wants to move?

LET THERE BE FREEDOM OF SPEECH!....and freedom to ridicule and to contradict stupid, inappropriate, and/or incorrect statements!

If freedom of speech is surrendered in the name of "Political Correctness"...what other freedoms will Germans eventually be required to surrender? ? ?
03:42 September 5, 2010 by korbermeister
@Garth Rex you talk about freedom of speech in a country where you can be jailed for 'Public Denial Of Genocide'? http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v18/v18n4p-2_Toben.html
14:21 September 5, 2010 by Jerr-Berlin
Re: Garth Rex

good comment.... this First Amendment must absolutely be respected and protected....the First Amendment protects our right to freely excercise our religion, to freely speak and publish, to peacefully assemble, and to petition our government for a redress of grievances.
10:09 September 8, 2010 by JohnnesKönig

The skilled and smart ones have no need to immigrate. They are happy to stay at home.


That was my initial thought too!
23:15 September 8, 2010 by Justiceiro
I found the subtitle of this article interesting. "Widespread outrage?" Curious, I haven't detected any of that. Though I am not myself German, the vast majority of my circle of friends is. They aren't outraged. Perhaps they are embarrassed at the manner in which Sarrazin expressed himself, particularly in reference to genetics. But most of them, in fact, most of the Germans I meet from all walks of life, are deeply concerned about a group that seems not to share certain values that Germans feel are essential to the nature of their culture: e.g. secularism, universalism in terms of education and political participation, and inter-gender equality.

Upon reading the article, the author's meaning became clearer. It is the newspapers that are outraged. No statistics about any sort of reliable poll of the public have been presented here, nor even transparently elsewhere. The official organs that speak to (sorry, "for") civil society, are outraged, and, eo ipso, "Germans" are outraged.

I can't think of a clearer demonstration of the fundamental problems facing this government, and by this I don't mean Merkel's coalition, I mean the entire establishment that rules (not governs) the German state. The "Germans" are inchoate, disorganized, and atomized. When you want to know their opinion, then ask the people who have the natural right to give the German people their opinion; the great and the good, the political parties, and the papers. When the Germans as a people start to get ornery and it appears that they may wish to have and even, God forbid, express their own independent opinions, then they must be smacked down and made to obey. World War Two usually does the trick. This is convenient for all the elites.

Unfortunately for said elites, this strategy is working less and less effectively. The war is drawing ever further into the gloom of distant history. Worse yet, the younger generation of Germans have a much wider picture of the world than their forebears did, they often speak foreign languages, and have even, perhaps, spent some time abroad. It is becoming more and more and more obvious to everyone that Germany is not a normal country.

As long as ¦quot;democracy¦quot; in Germany consists of government by a set of parties who discourage public participation in politics, provide no fundamental difference between themselves in crucial matters of public policy, and collude with non-state elements of cultural production in order to maintain this order of things, Germany will never be normal, nor will it truly be democratic.
03:10 September 9, 2010 by Canadianhaggis
Never did like the politically correct people. And how long and how much is a society suppose to be tolerant? At some point you get fed up and fight back and you have to take a stand for your rights! 30 years of being politically correct and forcing people to be tolerant to the breaking point is beginning to fall apart.

Maybe it's time for people like Thilo Sarrazin and papers like Bild to speak for the people, even if it shows 25% of the people do not follow like sheep.
17:42 September 10, 2010 by Beachrider
The problem NEVER was that anyone thought that they had a right to silence Sarrazin, they just didn't want him paid by their political group when doing it. As such, they have the perfect right to have him fired.

He can go out into the streets for Berlin and do his talking or catch-on with some group that wants to sponsor him. Perhaps he will find millions of followers, perhaps he won't.

There is nothing wrong with writing in a blog that Sarrazin is doing either good or evil, though. That is certainly protected speech.
14:22 September 13, 2010 by catjones
The issue is that without censure Sarrazin speaks for the Social Democrats and Germany¦#39;s central bank. A freedom of speech is always met with a freedom of reaction. Nobody prohibited Sarrazin from speaking and no one is trying to silence him. They just don't want him representing their interests.
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