Comment: Why are Germans Upset Over Critic of Islam? [Excerpts]
Former politician admits trying to ‘jolt’ Germans over Muslim integration.
BERLIN – “Everyone’s against Sarrazin!” was the headline that Bild,Germany’s largest daily newspaper, chose for its Tuesday issue. Deutsche Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin has sharply criticized both German Muslims for failing to embrace integration and Islam for its tendency to lead to terror.
Sarrazin, 65, a former Social Democratic finance commissioner for Berlin state (2002- 2009), has become, according to some observers, the subject of a feeding frenzy by the German media and political establishment, which is turning an unconventional thinker into a pariah.
“What did he say that was so sensational? You can look up all the facts. You can see – Germany supposedly loves people who think outside the box. But Germans don’t trust non-conformist opinions. That’s why this witch-hunt is happening,” the well-known German-Jewish journalist Henryk M. Broder said.
While Turkish and Islamic organizations have accused Sarrazin of racism and damaging Germany’s reputation abroad, the prominent German- Turkish sociologist and best-selling author Necla Kelek, who has defended Sarrazin, introduced him at a Berlin press conference on Monday attended by roughly 300 journalists, a number normally reserved for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s infrequent press appearances.
Kelek said Sarrazin addressed “bitter truths” in his new book and the chattering classes have judged it without reading it.
What first triggered the controversy surrounding the publication of the book, Germany Abolishes Itself, which appeared in bookstores on Monday, were Sarrazin’s comments about Islam and Jews.
Regarding Islam, Sarrazin said, “No other religion in Europe makes so many demands. No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime. No group emphasizes their differences so strongly in public, especially through women’s clothing. In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid.”
While Sarrazin has tapped into a raw nerve among the politically and socially correct elites of Germany, which roundly slammed him for his language, his critique of Muslims and his right to articulate his views enjoy widespread support within mainstream German society. Polls have revealed extraordinary levels of approval for Sarrazin, ranging from 85 percent to 95% of those questioned.