19 May 2004
BRUSSELS – A majority of Belgians think there are too many asylum seekers living in their country, according to a new survey published on Wednesday.
The study called the European Social Survey found that well over two thirds of Belgian citizens (68.1 percent) think the ratio of asylum seekers to the overall number of inhabitants in the country is too high.
The study also showed a clear difference between French speaking Walloons and Dutch speaking Flems on the asylum question.
While 69 percent of Flemish Belgians want to see the number of asylum seekers in the country reduced, the figure was lower for the Walloons at 66.8 percent.
A hard core of Belgians even said quite clearly that they thought no asylum seekers should be allowed to settle in their country.
When asked what sorts of political refugees the country should welcome, 17.5 percent of Flemish respondents and 15.1 percent of French speakers said “no-one”.
According to the study’s author, Katrien Meirman who is based at Leuven university, many Belgians feel threatened by asylum seekers.
Foreign refugees are seen both as a source of crime and also as a threat to traditional Belgian culture, she argued.
Most of the people questioned in Meirman’s survey said they were in favour of forcibly expelling from Belgium any asylum seekers who have committed crimes.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news