Just over half of Europeans surveyed opposed allowing Islamic headscarves in schools but backed the presence of crucifixes in classrooms, according to a Spanish study obtained by AFP on Wednesday.
A total 52.6 per cent of those polled in 12 European Union member states along were "opposed" or "totally opposed" to the use of the garment in schools, according to the study carried out by the research department of BBVA, Spain's second-largest bank.
Opposition to the veil was highest in Bulgaria with 84.3 per cent against and France with 68.7 per cent opposed and it was lowest in Poland with only 25.6 per cent against followed by Denmark with 28.1 per cent opposed.
By contrast 54.4 per cent of those polled were in favour of classrooms displaying crucifixes.
In Spain and Italy, two nations with a strong Roman Catholic tradition, support for the use of crucifixes in classrooms stood at 69.9 per cent and 49.3 per cent respectively.
Support for the use of crucifixes in classrooms shot up to 77 per cent in Britain and 78.8 per cent in Denmark.
The issue of the use of Islamic headscarves has been thrust into the spotlight once again in Europe due to controversial moves by France and Belgium to ban Muslim full face veils.
Last week France announced it would seek a law to ban Muslim residents and visitors from wearing a burqa or a niqab in public, while Belgium was poised to pass a similar ban until its ruling coalition collapsed on Thursday.
The BBVA study polled 1,500 people in 12 EU member states -- Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden -- as well as in Switzerland and Turkey on a variety of issues.
The question on the use of the veil and crucifixes in classrooms was posed only to participants in the study in the EU member states.