German MPs blast banker's remarks

Thilo Sarrazin called anti-Semitic for saying all Jews have same gene.

Thilo Sarrazin of the German Bundesbank (photo credit: Associated Press)
Thilo Sarrazin of the German Bundesbank
(photo credit: Associated Press)
BERLIN — German  top government officials and immigrant leaders on Sunday condemned remarks by a board member of Germany's federal bank as racist and anti-Semitic.
Thilo Sarrazin of the German Bundesbank came under fire for telling the weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag that "all Jews share the same gene." He also said Muslim immigrants across Europe were not willing or capable of integrating into western societies.
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Several lawmakers demanded that Sarrazin, 65, step down from his post as board member at Germany's federal bank and resign his party membership of the left-leaning Social Democrats — demands that Sarrazin rejected.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in an interview with weekly Bild am Sonntag that "remarks that feed racism or even anti-Semitism have no place in our political discourse."
Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said Sarrazin had "overstepped the borders of provocation."
Leaders of Germany's Jewish and Muslim communities also condemned the banker's remarks.
Stephan Kramer of the Central Council of Jews in Germany told German news agency DAPD: "Whoever tries to identify Jews by their genetic makeup succumbs to racism."
Last year, Sarrazin, who previously served as finance minister for Berlin, told a magazine that "I do not need to accept anyone who lives on handouts from a state that it rejects, is not adequately concerned about the education of their children and constantly produces new, little headscarf-clad girls."
He later apologized for his remarks.
A leading member of the Turkish community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to expel Sarrazin from his Bundesbank post.
In his Welt interview on Sunday, Sarrazin said that "Muslim immigrants don't integrate as well as other immigrant groups across Europe. The reasons for this are apparently not based on their ethnicity, but are rooted in the culture of Islam."
While most lawmakers have condemned his accusations as racist, some newspapers and TV stations have said an open debate about the country's integration of Muslim immigrants is greatly needed.