Half Europeans fear, resent refugees: survey

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - About half of Europeans fear the arrival of refugees raises the risk of attacks in their countries, a survey published on Monday 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 percent in France, 52 percent in Britain, 61 percent in Germany, 71 percent in Poland and 76 percent 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 percent of Germans who agreed to 82 percent of Hungarians. In Italy, 47 percent thought refugees more to blame for crime than other groups, a little more than in Sweden and Hungary. Only 13 percent of Spaniards thought that, however.

Asked for their view of Muslims, Some two thirds of Poles, Greeks, Italians and Hungarians were “unfavorable”, 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 percent of people thought Muslim immigrants wanted to adopt local customs, whereas now 32 percent hold that view. In France, that opinion is shared by 43 percent of people, up from 36 percent in 2005.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald Editing by Jeremy Gaunt; @macdonaldrtr