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German politician denies book contains anti-immigrant views

By Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hundreds protest Sarrazin book
  • The Bundesbank member denies his book contains anti-immigrant or racist remarks
  • Newspaper quotes Sarrazin: "All Jews share a common gene"

Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- Several hundred people turned out Monday at an appearance by German politician and central bank member Thilo Sarrazin to protest the release of his book, which critics have said contains anti-immigrant and racist remarks.

At a news conference to unveil the book, Sarrazin denied the claims and urged people to read his book -- called "Deutschland schafft sich ab" ("Germany Makes Itself Redundant") -- before judging him.

But Sarrazin's comments have already caused a stir in Germany, after he was quoted Sunday in the newspaper Welt am Sonntag as saying: "All Jews share a common gene," and that Muslims integrate much less into European societies than do other groups of immigrants.

The Bundesbank -- Germany's central bank, on whose board Sarrazin sits -- said in a news release that it distances itself from Sarrazin's "discriminating comments" but has decided to speak with him before deciding on further steps.

Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party, of which Sarrazin is a member, announced Monday it has begun a formal process to expel him from the organization.

Before moving to the Bundesbank, Sarrazin was the finance senator in Berlin, which has a large population of Muslim immigrants, most of them from Turkey, which faces high unemployment.