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German central bank to seek board member's dismissal in dispute over race comments

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's central bank said Thursday that it will request the dismissal of a board member whose comments stereotyping Muslims and Jews drew outrage at home and abroad.

The Bundesbank said in a terse statement that members of its six-member board "unanimously agreed" to ask German President Christian Wulff to remove Thilo Sarrazin, 65, from his post. It said the bank's corporate governance commissioner "unreservedly supports" the decision.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, several members of her government, lawmakers and others have indicated they would like Sarrazin to go, amid fears that his comments were damaging to the central bank's reputation.

Following the Bundesbank's announcement, a government spokesman signaled Merkel's satisfaction with the move.

"The chancellor has taken note, with great respect, of the independent decision of the Bundesbank's board," the spokesman said. He did not give is name, in keeping with department rules.

Wulff, who is a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, himself added to the pressure late Wednesday.

"I believe that the board of the German Bundesbank can take steps so that the discussion does not harm Germany, especially internationally," Wulff said on N24 television.

Sarrazin maintained in a book published earlier this week that Muslim immigrants in Europe are unwilling or incapable of integrating into western societies. He also has cited studies he says prove that "all Jews share a certain gene" — ideas that he stressed in interviews published ahead of its Monday release.

When asked before Thursday's decision about the uproar surrounding Sarrazin, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet told reporters that he was "appalled by the remarks."

Last year, Sarrazin — a former Berlin state finance minister — came under fire for telling a magazine that "I do not need to accept anyone who lives on handouts from a state that it rejects, is not adequately concerned about the education of their children and constantly produces new, little headscarf-clad girls."

He later apologized for those remarks.

The center-left Social Democrats, Germany's main opposition party, also have started proceedings to remove Sarrazin from their ranks.

Party leader Sigmar Gabriel has called Sarrazin's comments "linguistically violent."