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Swedes, Swiss most tolerant

47% of Europeans agreed that immigrants had made their country a better place to live, writes Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 19:30 IST

The Swedes and Swiss are most tolerant and positive about immigrants and their cultures than any other European, according to new research. They are followed by the British.

According to the study conducted after last year's July 7 London terror bombings, 70 per cent of British people say their everyday experience of immigrants is "positive", only slightly less than the European average of 73 per cent.

But the proportion is much lower, at 54 per cent, in Spain, which saw 191 people killed in fundamentalist bomb attacks in Madrid in March 2004. A total of 7,820 people in eight countries across Europe were polled about their views on immigrants.

While 47 per cent of Europeans agreed that immigrants had made their country a better place to live, 51 per cent of Britons believed this to be true, compared with 29 per cent in Spain.

On the issue of wearing the hijab Britons showed the most tolerance. More than six in 10 Britons polled believed that Muslim girls and women should be allowed to cover their head at school and work. The European average was 49 per cent; least tolerant were the Germans, with 37 per cent.

But Britons and other Europeans agreed that religious leaders who speak backing terrorism should be thrown out: 86 per cent supported this, while in Spain and Germany the figure rose to 93 per cent.

Reader's Digest interviewed people by telephone between Oct 12 and Nov 5 last year. The poll was conducted in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 19:30 IST