The local Arbitration Commission of the Berlin branch of the German Social Democrats (SPD) has ruled that the party is allowed to expel from its ranks 74-year-old Thilo Sarrazin, who has authored books on migration and Islam.
The procedure to expel the long-time SPD member was prompted by the book “Hostile Takeover: How Islam Hampers Progress and Threatens Society”, released last year and which saw 350,000 copies sold. It became the SPD’s third attempt to sever ties with Sarrazin, initiated by Secretary-General Lars Klingbeil, who branded his book "racist" and said that it contained "analogies to anti-Semitic argumentation”.
According to the decision, first reported by Bild and confirmed by the party, Sarrazin’s behaviour resulted in serious harm to the SPD, as the fact that he is a member of the party has been repeatedly brought up while his “anti-Muslim and racist” views were being spread. It is alleged that this undermines the credibility of both the SPD and its commitment to its stated values and beliefs.
“The defendant describes the Muslims living here as less valuable in comparison to the ancestral population (because they allegedly lack talents) and dangerous (due to their claimed inclination to violence). This is, above all, clearly racist, because he concludes that Islam is irrevocably inferior to the Christian West and thus pictures integration as senseless”, the verdict says, according to the German outlet.
Sarrazin’s lawyer has stated that he will file an appeal against the verdict, as the decision was made by the commission of the local Berlin branch of the party, so the politician will remain an SPD member until the final instance. Sarrazin announced earlier that he was going to complain "to the Federal Constitutional Court" if necessary.
Speaking to the German outlet, Sarrazin said that he didn’t think it was possible for someone to be thrown out of a party and persecuted over an opinion or a book.
“The SPD today made a wrong decision in the first instance. It is a pity that it did not find the strength to make a different decision in the interest of freedom of expression and intra-party democracy. Today's decision will not stop the demise of the SPD", he stated, hinting at the trouble the Social Democrats have been experiencing with their sinking ratings.
Klingbeil, who was one of the plaintiffs, welcomed the verdict on Twitter.
“We think our key belief has been proven right: Sarrazin has broken the basic principles of our party with his statements and damaged us. There is no place for racist thoughts in the SPD”, he posted, confirming the positive decision on their plea.
Call on Germany to Brace Itself
His recent book was published in autumn 2018 following a row with publishing giant Random House, which declined to release it. In the book, Sarrazin called on Germany to brace itself and act, because the proportion of Muslims in the country and Europe is continuing to grow as a result of immigration and persistently high birth rates.
This harkens back to the premise of his 2010 book, Germany Is Abolishing Itself, which triggered controversy almost eight years ago and was, as it happens, released by Random House’s affiliated German publishing house (DVA). Following public uproar, Sarrazin had to resign from his post at the Federal Bank.