Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen – good afternoon Mr. Thilo Sarrazin.
It is a great honor that I have been given the opportunity to present this year’s Sappho Award. As most of you probably know the idea of the Sappho Award is to pay tribute to a person who has used his - or her - right to free speech. Often at great personal costs because the speaker has dealt with and commented on controversial issues.
No one knows this situation better than Mr. Sarrazin.
I knew nothing about Thilo Sarrazin before his book Deutschland schafft sich ab translated into Germany Is Doing Away With Itself was published in 2010 – and created a stir. To the extent that today Mr. Sarrazin is a celebrity – well-deserved – and this also means that today it is very easy to find information on him on the net. Such as:
Mr. Thilo Sarrazin is a German politician from The Social Democratic Party (SPD), a writer, and a former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank. He also previously served as senator of finance for the State of Berlin. He is a man who certainly knows something about economy.
In Deutschland schafft sich ab he denounces the failure of Germany’s post-war immigration policy. The book sparked a nation-wide controversy – and a very important in-depth debate - about the costs and benefits of multiculturalism. More than 1 million copies were sold.
In 2012 Mr. Sarrazin published, Europa braucht den Euro nicht (Europe doesn't need the euro); this book argues that the introduction of a single currency in Europe was a bad idea and one that should be overturned. Once again Mr. Sarrazin showed his courage and integrity by going against the tide of the Establishment.
Mr. Sarrazin advocates a restrictive immigration policy - with the exception of the highly skilled - and the reduction of state welfare benefits:
"Integration requires effort from those that are to be integrated. I will not show respect for anyone that is not making that effort. I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls. This holds true for 70 percent of the Turkish and 90 percent of the Arab population in Berlin."
Mr. Sarrazin also said regarding Islam:
“No other religion in Europe makes so many demands. No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime. No group emphasizes their differences so strongly in public, especially through women’s clothing. In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid.”
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Mr. Sarrazin, however, is so much more than a critic of Islamization which the following two quotations will prove. I’ll quote them in German and translate afterwards into Danish.
The first one is from an interview in Frankfurter Allgemeine:
”Wissen geht mit den Menschen, die in Pension gehen oder sterben, zunächst verloren. Es muss immer wieder neu erworben werden. Das gelingt nur begrenzt. So scheint der liberale Ordnungsrahmen, der vor einem halben Jahrhundert bei der Gründung der EWG Pate gestanden hat, weitgehend in Vergessenheit geraten. Zudem geht der überlieferte Fundus an kultureller Gemeinsamkeit in den europäischen Bildungseliten zurück. Ersetzt wird er durch eine internationale Kultur, für die Facebook und große Sportereignisse stehen. Die verbinden auch, aber nicht europäisch.”
(Når mennesker går på pension eller dør, går deres viden til grunde. Den skal bestandigt genvindes. Dette lykkes kun i begrænset omfang. Således er den liberale orden, som for et halvt århundrede stod fadder til EF, i vidt omfang forsvundet i glemsel. Desuden skrumper de europæiske dannelseseliters hovedstol af nedarvet fælleskultur. Den erstattes af en international kultur, som Facebook og sportsbegivenheder står for. Også de forbinder, men ikke på europæisk.)
One more quotation – this time from Deutschland schafft sich ab:
“Paradox nur, dass wir uns uber die Umwelt so viele Gedanken machen. Wir nehmen als unvermeidlich hin, dass Deutschland kleiner und dummer wird. Wir wollen nicht darüber nachdenken - geschweige denn darüber sprechen. Aber wir machen uns Gedanken uber das Weltklima in 100 oder 500 Jahren” (p. 17)
(Det er paradoksalt, at vi er så optagede af miljøet, mens vi affinder os med det uundgåelige i, at Tyskland bliver mindre og dummere. Vi vil ikke tænke over det og slet ikke tale om det. Men det globale klima om 50 eller 100 år gør vi os tanker om.)
Mr. Sarrazin receives the Sappho Award because he has listened to and acted on his knowledge and his conscience. He has faced realities, unattractive as they may be. He has confronted multicultural utopia - and he has paid the price for it.
He has been heavily criticized and condemned as racist - and so-called nice people won’t refer to him. And he lost a very prestigious post because he was forced to leave his seat on the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank. However, he stuck to his principles – and to the truth(s).
This was and is nobly done – especially in Germany with its specific history. Mr. Sarrazin’s work, his books and his public appearance are an expression of great personal courage.
Therefore, in the perspective of free speech, he is truly a remarkably inspiring example to follow.
Ladies and gentlemen, please acknowledge this year’s Sappho Award recipient Mr. Thilo Sarrazin.