French prefer fewer immigrants

More than half of French respondents to a new poll say immigrants are a bad influence on their country, even though a majority feel religious diversity is a good thing.

    France, home to largest Muslim community in western Europe

    In the AP-Ipsos poll, 53% say immigrants to France are a bad influence on the country and 52% say it is better for a country if nearly all its residents share the same customs and traditions.
     
    Not all the French sentiment about immigrants was negative, however.

    Seven in 10 say it is better for a country to have a variety of people with different religions, and three-fourths say immigrants take the jobs that French nationals are unwilling to do.

    Immigration has long been a difficult issue in France, which is home to both the largest Muslim population in western Europe - 5 million - and to the largest Jewish community in Europe. Many Muslims are also French citizens.

    The country's growing Muslim population hails mainly from the former French colonies of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The French government also is concerned about a rise in Islamic activism and by the fact that some Muslims have not fully 'integrated' into the French society.

    Controversial laws

    A recently passed law in France forbids students from wearing conspicuous religious symbols and clothing to school. The law was enacted mainly to defuse controversy about Muslim headscarves, but also applies to attire such as the Jewish yarmulke and large crucifixes.

    In 1999, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 3.2 million foreigners living in France, roughly 5.6% of the country's 60 million people. Major nationalities included Portuguese (553,000), Italians (201,000), Moroccans (504,000), Algerians (477,482) and Tunisians (154,000).
     
    In 2001 - 141,000 permanent foreign residents permits were accorded, and, significantly 69% of them were for consolidation of family members - bringing families together once a parent, for instance, is a resident. Six percent went to refugees and 8% for work.

    The AP-Ipsos poll of 938 French residents, conducted 14 – 15 May, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3% points.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    From Zimbabwe to England: A story of war, home and identity

    The country I saw as home, my parents saw as oppressors

    What happens when you reject the identity your parents fought for and embrace that of those they fought against?

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    One woman shares the story of her life with polycystic kidney disease and sees parallels with the plight of the planet.

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    On a gorgeous Florida evening, a truck crashed into me. As I lay in intensive care, I learned who had been driving it.