CORRECTED – UPDATE 2-German central banker in race row resigns

* Bundesbank says board member to leave at end of the month

* Sarrazin came under pressure from Merkel and other leaders

(Corrects spelling of Merkel in first paragraph)
(Adds comments by Sarrazin, SPD head Sigmar Gabriel)

By Annika Breidthardt

BERLIN, Sept 9 (BestGrowthStock) – A German central bank board
member who caused outrage with remarks about Muslim immigrants
and Jews resigned on Thursday after coming under pressure from
political leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Bundesbank said Thilo Sarrazin, 65, who accused Turks
and Arabs of exploiting the welfare state, refusing to integrate
and lowering the average intelligence, would leave his post at
the end of the month.

“Dr. Sarrazin has asked the president to relieve him of his
duties,” the bank said in a brief statement and Sarrazin himself
confirmed he had stepped down during a book reading in Potsdam
near Berlin.

He had already been relieved of some of his central bank
responsibilities over remarks he made last year about immigrants
but the strict independence of the central bank made it
difficult to have him removed.

However, after he published stronger comments in his new
book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (“Germany does away with
itself”) and remarks in the run-up to its publication, Merkel
and President Christian Wulff gave strong hints he should step
down.

Sarrazin argues in the book that Muslims undermine German
society and threaten to change its character and culture with
their higher birth rate. He angered many by saying “all Jews
share a particular gene”.

The central bank board voted unanimously last week for his
removal, which required the approval of the head of state.
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Take a Look on Sarrazin [ID:nLDE6851SX]
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“I found it too risky in the current atmosphere … to stand
up to the entire political and media establishment. That would
be presumptuous and would not have worked,” Sarrazin said at the
book reading after news of his resignation.

“So, a strategic retreat and now (I will) work on the topics
that are important to me,” Sarrazin added.

He had previously vowed to fight attempts to remove him,
raising the prospect of a bruising court case that would have
raised questions over whether Merkel, her ministers and Wulff
had acted correctly.

Merkel, senior ministers and the main political parties
criticised Sarrazin, who belongs to the centre-left Social
Democrats (SPD) and is a former finance chief of the city of
Berlin.

The SPD has launched proceedings to expel him, although a
recent opinion poll showed this would be unpopular with the
public and SPD voters, who believed the party should devote its
attentions to more important matters.

“I want no selection by genetics … as a Social Democrat,”
SPD party leader Sigmar Gabriel told a TV show after the
resignation, adding that Sarrazin had “crossed a line and people
in the party are saying it’s not okay with us”.

A legal battle to remove him from the central bank or from
the party could risk making him a hero figure and embroil the
government in a dispute at a time of falling poll ratings.

Sarrazin has become an embarrassment for Bundesbank
President Axel Weber, who several German leaders hope will
succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as president of the European Central
Bank next year when the Frenchman’s contract runs out.
(Additional reporting by Oliver Ellrodt in Potsdam; editing by
Stephen Brown and Elizabeth Fullerton)

CORRECTED – UPDATE 2-German central banker in race row resigns