About half of Europeans fear the arrival of refugees raises the risk of attacks in their countries, a survey published on Monday (Jul 11) found, and many, especially in the east, see them as a burden on their economy.
Washington-based Pew Research Center found the share of people believing that “refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in our country” was, among others, 46 per cent in France, 52 per cent in Britain, 61 per cent in Germany, 71 per cent in Poland and 76 per cent in Hungary.
The Hungarian and Polish governments have led criticism of European Union efforts over the past year to distribute asylum seekers around the bloc, mostly from Syria and Iraq.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who oversaw a welcome in Germany for about a million refugees last year, said on Monday that Islamist militants had used the wave of arrivals to infiltrate Europe. Some of those involved in Islamic States attacks in Paris and Brussels are believed to have come from Syria.
Asked whether refugees were a burden because they took jobs and benefits, respondents in the 10 states surveyed gave diverse answers, from 31 per cent of Germans who agreed to 82 per cent of Hungarians. In Italy, 47 per cent thought refugees more to blame for crime than other groups, a little more than in Sweden and Hungary. Only 13 per cent of Spaniards thought that, however.
Asked for their view of Muslims, Some two thirds of Poles, Greeks, Italians and Hungarians were “unfavourable”, a view shared by fewer than a third of French, Germans and Britons.
The Pew data tracked changes over time in some countries.
In Germany in 2005, only 9 per cent of people thought Muslim immigrants wanted to adopt local customs, whereas now 32 per cent hold that view. In France, that opinion is shared by 43 per cent of people, up from 36 per cent in 2005.