Thilo Sarrazin is not charismatic, but he has become a man of influence. He has changed the debate over immigration in Germany.
In his view "suppressing emotion is even more dangerous" than broaching subjects that were recently largely off-limits.
Others, like analyst Prof Klaus Kocks, have issued a note of caution. "As a German," he told me, "you have to be more careful than others. You have to accept our history."
I met Thilo Sarrazin at his old school in Recklinghausen. He was there to promote his book, Germany Abolishes Itself. He is both reviled and admired for its controversial thesis.
Outside the school were a handful of protesters. One banner accused Mr Sarrazin of acting like the Nazis. There were many more, however, who had bought tickets to hear him. His book has sold close to a million copies.
His essential message is that Muslims are either "unwilling or unable to integrate" into Western society. "If the majority of migrants from non-Muslim countries don't have any obvious problem integrating," he told a packed hall, "then the failure to integrate on the part of migrants from Muslim countries can't be due to a fault on our side - because all are treated equally. It has to be because of a characteristic of Muslims themselves."
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November 9, 2010
Posted by Annalee Davis