Economic crisis aggravates German xenophobia

09:44, October 14, 2010      

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The world economic crisis has aggravated xenophobia among Germans according to a poll released Wednesday.

One quarter of respondents admitted they had strong xenophobic attitudes, said the poll, presented here by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation for Political Education (FES), compared to fifth in 2008.

The xenophobic attitudes were not confined to the "fringe" of society, FES spokeswoman Nora Langenbacher said. Right-wing extremist views were now found "within mainstream society."

About 30 percent agreed with the statement, "foreigners come to abuse the welfare state," FES said, according to its survey of 2,400 Germans aged between 14 and 90.

Concerning the job market, 31.7 percent agreed that "foreigners should be sent back home," while 35.6 percent thought too many immigrants put Germany in danger of being "overrun."

Anti-Islam emotions showed up clearly in the poll, with 58 percent saying "religious practice for Muslims in Germany should be seriously limited," while this rate surged to 75.7 percent for people from former East Germany.

FES said the rise of xenophobia was partly due to the spread of right-wing extremist attitudes, but mainly pushed by the world economic crisis, which started in the last quarter of 2008.

"This development is most likely linked to the effects of the economic crisis," FES said. And the worsening of economic situation also strengthened the popularity of right-wing extremist views.

Since this summer, debates over the integration of immigrants have become more common among politicians and the public in Germany.

In September, Thilo Sarrazin was kicked out of the SPD party and the governing board of the Bundesbank, Germany' s central bank, for racist comments and a book on Jews and Muslim immigrants.

However, a survey made by the local best-selling daily Bild in the same month showed that 18 percent of people still supported Sarrazin.

Some conservative politicians also made similar remarks after that. Over the last weekend, the premier of Germany's richest state Bavarian Horst Seehofer even suggested a ban on immigration for Turks and Arabs because of their "difficulties" with integration.

Source: Xinhua


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