Racism, Islamophobia on the rise: Study

The study says rise was 'linked' to hostile media coverage of immigration and asylum issues.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2004 12:20 IST

Racism in Britain increased last year after nearly 20 years of declining prejudice because of hostile media coverage of immigration and asylum issues. There has been a growth in Islamophobia after the 9/11 attacks, claims a new study.

According to the 20th annual report from the National Centre for Social Research - British Social Attitudes - in 1983, 35 per cent of adults described themselves as prejudiced against people of other races. This rose to 39 per cent in 1987 before declining to 25 per cent in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, however, the percentage claiming to be racially prejudiced rose to 31 per cent, the highest figure since 1994.

The research was done by Catherine Rothon and Anthony Heath of Oxford University. They said the result was probably linked to media coverage of immigration and asylum issues. They found a long-term relationship between self-reported prejudice and hostile newspaper coverage of immigration.

The study has found that reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks may also have contributed to a growth in Islamophobia. It said: "Increasing levels of education help explain why Britain has gradually become less racially prejudiced. Generally speaking, more educated people are the least likely to be racially prejudiced. Less than one in five graduates (18 per cent) admit to being prejudiced, compared with more than a third (35 per cent) of those with no qualifications."

"Although older people are no more or less likely than younger ones to admit to being racially prejudiced, they are far less likely to support anti-discrimination legislation. As this generation dies out, it is likely that support for such legislation will grow."

The study concludes: "We would emphasise the risks posed by a media-led campaign against immigration."

First Published: Dec 09, 2003 19:52 IST