Anti-Islam book becomes German bestseller less than two weeks after release

A new book highly critical of Islam and Muslims has been flying off the shelves in Germany to become a non-fiction bestseller. Mainstream media panned it for a simplistic approach to the religion.

The controversial book titled “Hostile Takeover: How Islam Impedes Progress and Threatens Society” reached the number one spot on Der Spiegel’s non-fiction list after being on the market for less than a fortnight. It’s a critique of Islam as a religion, which the author sees as detrimental to people sharing it, based on a literal reading of the Koran.

Written by one-time SPD politician and former member of the executive board of the Bundesbank, Thilo Sarrazin, the work comes eight years after Sarrazin’s previous take on Muslims titled “Germany Abolishes Itself”. Focusing on what he called a failure of multiculturalism policies, that book accused Arab and Turkish immigrants of “dumbing down” the German society, and shifted 1.5 million copies.

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© Tobias Schlie/Reuters

Speaking ahead of the release of his latest work last month, Sarrazin proclaimed that “everything has been worse than I predicted eight years ago.”

The release of “Hostile Takeover” comes during a period of heightened tensions in Germany, with much public attention focused crimes committed by immigrants. It was started by the murder of a man in the city of Chemnitz in August, which triggered massive anti-immigration protests in parts of the country with violent clashes erupting between left and right-wing demonstrators.

Calling Islam an “ideology of violence in the guise of a religion,” Sarrazin’s latest work had a somewhat bumpy path to the shelves. US-based publisher Random House, which signed a book deal with Sarrazin in November 2016, refused to print in in May, leading to a lawsuit from the author. The manuscript was eventually picked up by Munich-based FinanzBuch Verlag, a publisher that usually specializes in non-fiction books dealing with business and trading subjects.

Sarrazin’s new work has received praise in right-wing German weekly Junge Freiheit, but mainstream media outlets, both in and outside of Germany, have slammed the book. A review by Deutsche Welle called it a “distorted picture based on prejudice” and compared Sarrazin’s way of reading the Koran to that of jihadist groups. The UK’s Financial Times criticized its “reductive approach” pulling up Sarrazin for his lack of knowledge of Arabic and for not being either a theologian or religious scholar.

The criticism hasn’t stopped the book from becoming a best seller on online retailer Amazon, however, receiving an average 4.3 stars out of 5 from the 264 reviews made by online purchasers.

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