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Around Half of Europeans Fear Refugee Influx May Increase Terrorism, Says Survey

Migrants walk along Hungary's border fence on the Serbian side of the border near Morahalom, Hungary, February 22, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Laszlo Balogh

Migrants walk along Hungary’s border fence on the Serbian side of the border near Morahalom, Hungary, February 22, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Laszlo Balogh

Brussels: About half of Europeans fear the arrival of refugees raises the risk of attacks in their countries, a survey published on July 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% in France, 52% in Britain, 61% in Germany, 71% in Poland and 76% in Hungary.

The Hungarian and Polish governments have led criticism of EU 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 ISIS 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 ten states surveyed gave diverse answers, from 31% of Germans who agreed to 82% of Hungarians. In Italy, 47% thought refugees more to blame for crime than other groups, a little more than in Sweden and Hungary. Only 13% 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% of people thought Muslim immigrants wanted to adopt local customs, whereas now 32% hold that view. In France, that opinion is shared by 43% of people, up from 36% in 2005.