Islam debate in Germany: Anxiety sparked by ignorance

22 Oct 2010

Headscarf discussions, battles about newly built mosques and the Islam-critical best-seller by Thilo Sarrazin. At the same time that German Federal President Christian Wulff is declaring that Islam is part of Germany. But he has by no means been able to persuade the Germans to agree with him.
Many German citizens are ill at ease because they see their way of life being called into question by the presence of Islam. The headscarves and veils worn by Islamic women annoy them especially. They wonder whether these women are being oppressed. The same concerns are also expressed in the results of a study just published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Oliver Decker, who led the study, speaks of a “very distinct increase from previously 34 per cent to over half the population who agree with statements hostile to Islam”. Many Germans are also sceptical with regard to the building of new mosques, he says.

“Islam Is Like a Drug”: Interview with German-Egyptian political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad

17 September 2010

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Egyptian-German political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad talks about his childhood as the son of an imam in Egypt, why he thinks Islam is a danger to society and his theories about the inevitable decline of the Muslim world. Despite his own criticism of Islam, he does not find Thilo Sarrazin’s comments helpful for the integration debate, and thinks he is overrated. Abdel-Samad has published a book, predicting the downfall of the Islamic world. Although the number of Muslims is growing, there is stagnation in all Islamic countries and Islam has no convincing answers to the challenges of the 21st century: “It is in intellectual, moral and cultural decline — a doomed religion, without self-awareness and without any options to act”, Abdel-Samad claims.

German troublemaker Sarrazin steps down

10 September 2010
Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin resigned late on Thursday after causing weeks of uproar with inflammatory comments on immigrants and Jews. “The Bundesbank board and its member Thilo Sarrazin are aware of their responsibilities to the institution of the Bundesbank,” the central bank said in a surprise statement posted on its website. “Given the public debate, the parties concerned are going, of mutual accord, to end their cooperation at the end of the month.”
The Frankfurt-based Bundesbank had previously requested that German President Christian Wulff fire Sarrazin because he had refused to go quietly. But on Thursday the bank said it had “withdrawn its request” and that the 65-year-old had asked Wulff to relieve him of his duties. The statement also thanked Sarrazin “for the work he has done.”
The furore followed the publication of a new book by Sarrazin, Deutschland schafft sich ab — Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen, or “Abolishing Germany – How we’re putting our country at jeopardy.” In the book, he says Europe’s top economy is being undermined, overwhelmed and made “more stupid” by poorly educated, fast-breeding, badly integrated and unproductive Muslim immigrants and their offspring. “If I want to hear the muezzin’s call to prayer, then I’ll go to the Orient,” he says in the book, saying that allowing in millions of “guest workers” in the 1960s and 1970s was a “gigantic error.”
As a consequence, the Sarrazin debate has put the immigration and integration issue back on top of the political and public agenda in Germany.

Die Welt (11/09, German)

A tirade against Turks in Germany by a recently appointed central bank board member provoked widespread anger

The governor of the German Central Bank, Axel Weber, has been attempting a damage limitation exercise after remarks by Thilo Sarrazin about the country’s 2.5 million-strong Turkish minority provoked popular anger.

Last week Mr. Sarrazin, who was recently appointed to the central bank’s board, told cultural magazine Lettre International that Turks, who are three per cent of the country’s population, contributed little to the German economy and were a threat due to their high birth rate.

“Turks are conquering Germany…with a strong birth rate,” Sarrazin was quoted as saying. “I would be happy if it were a question of eastern European Jews whose intelligence is 15 per cent greater than the German population. I do not want groups within the population that do not accept the duty of integration, and on top of that it costs a lot more money.”

Speaking of the German capital, Berlin, Sarrazin added: “A large number of Arabs and Turks in this city, the number of whom has grown owing to poor policies, have no productive function aside from selling fruit and vegetables. Figures provided by the Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce indicated that the number of companies founded in Germany by Turkish citizens or Germans with a Turkish background has risen to 65,000, employing around 320,000, over the past two decades.