Most French want burqa law but not total ban

Two-thirds of French people want a law limiting the use of face-covering Islamic veils such as the niqab and the burqa, with only a minority backing the government’s plan for a complete ban, a recent poll has shown. The TNS Sofres/Logica poll showed that 33 percent of French people want a complete ban, while a further 31 percent want a more narrow law applying only to certain public spaces.

The results of the survey of 950 people were roughly the same for men and women. Support for some kind of legal restriction on the full veil cut across age groups, professions and political affiliation, though it was stronger among right-wing voters — more than 80 percent of them favored a law. By opting for a complete ban, Sarkozy is taking a constitutional gamble since the practice of veiling oneself can be defended on the grounds of religious freedom.

A narrower law asking women to bare their faces in town halls or when they pick up their children from school would have been less legally risky, since it could have been justified as a security measure rather than a question of values.

Dutch anti-immigration party to gain in upcoming local elections

Dutch right wing, anti-immigration PVV (Freedom) Party stands to gain in local elections scheduled for March 3, 2010. A recent poll from TNS/NIPO projects that the party will win the city of Almere in the local elections, one of only two cities where the party will run. This as a result of the votes of middle aged white men, many of whom did not vote in previous elections.

Attention to the elections has been heightened by the fall of the Dutch national government and subsequent elections scheduled for June 9 2010. As negotiations to form a coalition government are underway, many parties have already ruled out potential cooperation with Wilders. Only the Christian Democrat Party and the right wing Liberals (VVD ) have not yet done so.

Germans against minaret ban

After the Swiss referendum on banning the construction of minarets, German pollsters are eager to find out about the level of tolerance in their country. Two polls have been conducted, showing that a majority opposes the minaret ban, but the difference between supporters and opponents is small, depending on the survey.

According to a poll by Emnid Institute for the tabloid “Bild am Sonntag”, 48 percent of the Germans are against a minaret ban and 38 percent would vote in favour of such a ban. At the same time, researchers at TNS-Infratest on behalf of “Der Spiegel” found that 45 percent oppose a minaret ban, while as much as 44 percent favour it.

Both surveys, however, revealed stark differences between the former East and West. In the East, a majority supports a minaret ban (Emnid: 44 percent, TNS-Infratest: 47 percent), while a minority opposes it (both polls: 37 percent). In the former West, a minority is for the ban (Emnid: 37 percent, TNS-Infratest: 43 percent), with a majority against it (Emnid: 51 percent, TNS-Infratest: 47 percent).

It is worth noting that all Swiss polls had predicted a majority against the ban prior to the referendum and that the German polls do not necessarily imply a different outcome if Germany – or any other country – were to hold a similar popular vote.

New study claims the French are open to immigration

According to a new survey released by TNS Opinion for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the French view immigration as far more favorable than Americans, Brits, Germans, Italians, the Dutch and Poles.

Unlike the British, for instance, the French consider immigration as an opportunity and not as a problem. Unlike Italians, they typically reject common linkages between immigration and criminality. The French believe security at the borders should be tightened to impede illegal immigration, but also call for more developmental aid for immigrants. The study was undertaken between 29 August 29 and September 29, 2008 with a sample of 1000 people in each of these 7 countries.

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Dutch more positive about Muslims

According to a new poll carried out by TNS NIPO with 1,100 Dutch adults, Dutch people are less negative about the presence of Muslims. At the same time, however, fewer and fewer Dutch people believe that the integration of Muslims into Dutch society will ultimately be successful. In this most current NIPO survey, only one quarter of those surveyed admitted to negative feelings about the Muslim community – significantly less than forty percent in the 2006 survey. Similarly, only 11 percent perceived Muslims to be threat, compared to 21 percent in 2006. The facts that no large-scale attacks have taken place in the EU and that there has been noticeable reduction in hysteria surrounding Islam, are cited as reasons for the diminished negative responses. However, the NIPO survey also revealed that 70 percent of those questions believed that Muslims will ultimately fail at fully integrating into Dutch society; only 14 percent believed that integration was possible, compared to 21 percent in 2005.

Ireland: Pupils’ right to wear hijab is backed by almost half surveyed

According to a poll conducted by the Irish Times and TNS, almost half of people feel that the wearing of the hijab or headscarf by Muslim students should be allowed in state schools. 48% agreed that the garment should be permitted, 39% disagreed, and 13% indicated that they had no opinion. A breakdown of the figures by age show that young people are more tolerance of the headscarf, while older people were more likely to be opposed to its wearing. In addition, 55% of women agreed to its wearing, compared to only 42% of men. The poll was conducted among a sample of 1,000 voters in face-to-face interviews, at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies. Batt O’Keeffe, the Minister for Education, said that the Government will consider whether or not to issue guidelines for the hijab/headscarf when it drafts an inter-cultural education strategy later in the year.