Party court allows German social democrats to expel controversial member: report

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-11 22:04:26|Editor: Wu Qin
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BERLIN, July 11 (Xinhua) -- The former Berlin finance senator Thilo Sarrazin, who has been a controversial figure because of his Islam-critical views, could be expelled from the German Social Democrats (SPD), a party district court in Berlin decided on Thursday.

According to German newspaper Bild, the decision by the SPD district court said that the "spread of anti-Muslim and cultural-racist statements" by Sarrazin had caused "serious damage to the SPD".

Sarrazin's lawyer Andreas Koehler said that the former German politician would not accept the verdict and would appeal against the decision.

"We will appeal to the courts of instance via the federal state and national arbitration courts of the SPD, and, if necessary, all normal civil courts," even the German Federal Constitutional Court, added Koehler.

"The SPD made a wrong decision today," Sarrazin told Bild.

The SPD court for Berlin's district association Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf had granted a motion from the party leadership to exclude Sarrazin, a former politician and author, who was a controversial figure due to his Islam-critical theses.

"Sarrazin has violated the party's principles with his statements and caused it damage. Racist thoughts have no place in the SPD," Lars Klingbeil, secretary general of the German social democrats, posted on Twitter.

The German social democrats had tried twice before and failed to distance themselves from Sarrazin, once in 2010 and again the following year.

In December 2018, the SPD leadership had decided to make another attempt following the publishing of Sarrazin's book "Hostile Takeover: How Islam hampers progress and threatens society" last summer.

At the end of 2018, a committee appointed by the SPD leadership presented an 18-page report which listed eight Islam-critical and xenophobic core theses of Sarrazin's book that were incompatible with the "principles of social democracy".

Following the decision by the SPD's local Berlin court on Thursday, the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) invited Sarrazin to join their party.

"We invite him to work with us," a spokesperson from the AfD's regional association in Berlin said on Thursday.

A party exclusion is the highest sanction level in Germany but is difficult because intraparty differences of opinion are protected under the German constitution, which obliges parties to "internal party democracy".