Book sparks new controversy over anti-Islamic hate-mongering in Germany
Thilo Sarrazin is neither a scholar of Islam or a student of Arabic. He is not an evolutionary biologist or a demography expert. Yet, his newly-released book offers an unrelentingly critical view of the Muslims of Germany and trades on what he says are the tensions caused by immigration in the European country.
The former politician and author might not be offering academic insight, but his views are being widely read by the country's surging far-right groups. Hostile Takeover ranked number one on Germany’s Amazon’s bestseller list before even going to print.
Mainstream media outlets have debunked his theories, including the idea that Islam threatens the development of Germany due to what he says is its intolerance.
“His claim to be able to determine the core statements of Islam by reading the Quran without any knowledge of Arabic or theological background is an absurd presumption,” Ulrich von Schwerin wrote on the Deutsche Welle website.
Mr Sarrazin openly admits that his analysis "exclusively" follows his own "direct understanding of the text," as if the religion is really to be understood without taking into account the context of its origin and the history of its reception.
By his own admission, Mr Sarrazin has no training to be a theologian and he claims to be delivering his own observations of German life.
Populist, right-leaning outlets have supported the author's views while others have condemned him as divisive.
His reductive approach first reached German readers in 2010 when he published the bestseller Germany Is Doing Away With Itself.
In it, he argued that the “right sort” of German women were having too few babies and that the “wrong sort” (which he defines as Muslims and those with little education) were having too many. He says that, as a result, the German population was not only shrinking but getting dumber.
The first book published by the former Social Democratic Party politician and bank director in 2010 contained an eerie throwback to eugenics and a grim reminder of Germany’s darkest times.
The German paper Der Spiegel referred to him as “the man who divided Germany” shortly after publication, as he stirred up controversy.
This title still seems fitting. His tomes may be full of inaccuracies, but they are still striking a nerve among those who are experiencing real anxieties about what immigration may mean for Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under fire for integrating more than a million refugees over the past three years.
But rather than giving answers, Mr Sarrazin's work further blurs the line between facts and emotions – a phenomenon that characterises the new era of populism in Europe and in the United States.
Ms Merkel has been striking a conciliatory note as well as conceding that “there has to be more order to all forms of migration”.
After weeks of conflict between Ms Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the conservative sister parties CDU and CSU reached a mutually-satisfactory deal on migration policies.
The chancellor might have won a battle, but the war is not over yet. The real challenge – the one against those voices appealing to humanity’s worst instincts – has just begun.
Updated: September 12, 2018 11:08 AM