French prejudices on the rise: poll

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More than one in 10 French people admit to being racist and many have prejudicial views of immigrants, homosexuals, blacks, Arab and Jews, according to a survey released Sunday.

A poll by the BVA institute for two anti-discrimination groups found, for example, that 30 percent of the French agree with the idea that Jews have more influence on finance and the media than other groups.

Almost as many, 28 percent, think that Arabs are more likely to commit crimes than members of other groups, a number that has more than doubled since a similar poll was conducted last year.

A significant minority of the French, 15 percent, admit to being "rather or a bit racist", up one percent on the previous study.

Almost half of respondents, 49 percent, thought that immigrants are better able to exploit the social welfare system than are the native French, and 12 percent said homosexuals were more obsessed by sex than others.

Meanwhile 28 percent said they regarded blacks as more physically powerful than other groups.

And even among those who told pollsters they were not racist, a third said they didn't react when they heard others use racist language.

"The French capacity for indignation is in decline," lamented Arielle Schwab, president of the Union of French Jewish Students, one of the groups that commissioned the survey.

The groups ascribed the increase in prejudicial views to the political climate in France, where the government has attempted to generate a debate on national identity which some see as encouraging racial stereotyping.

"In the past few months we're seen racist speech entering the mainstream," said Dominique Sopo of pressure groupe SOS Racisme, criticising the identity debate and the government's attempt to ban the full-face Islamic veil.

The BVA poll was carried out between May 21 and 22 on a representative sample of 1,029 subjects aged 15 or more.

© 2010 AFP

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