German public opinion is deeply split over the fate of a central banker whose disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants have triggered a heated debate on race and integration, surveys showed on Wednesday.
Over the past week and a half, Thilo Sarrazin has dominated headlines with criticism of Germany’s large Muslim community, and contentious remarks asserting that Jews have a particular genetic makeup.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and a host of leading politicians have rebuked the 65-year-old Sarrazin, who has said immigrants of Turkish and Arab origin refuse to integrate, sponge off the state and make the country less intelligent on average.
Germany’s Central Council of Jews and others have urged the Bundesbank to dismiss Sarrazin, but the bank said on Wednesday it had put off a decision over his fate until at least Thursday.
A survey by pollster Emnid for N24 television showed 51 percent of respondents saw no need for the Bundesbank to fire board member Sarrazin, with 32 percent taking the opposite view.
But another poll by YouGov for Bild newspaper said 42 percent considered Sarrazin no longer acceptable for the job, with 34 percent seeing him as still acceptable and 25 percent undecided. Both surveys polled around 1,000 Germans.
The Emnid poll people showed more disagreeing with than backing the views of the banker. Some 35 percent of respondents said they “rather rejected” his theories, which have been applauded by far-right parties at home and abroad, with only 30 percent taking the opposite view.
Still, 56 percent of those polled said migrants were to blame for their integration problems, while only 11 percent held the opinion that Germans were responsible for the difficulties.