Ban Islamic headscarves say half of Swedes

Islamic headscarves ought to be banned at workplaces and in schools – that’s the view of half the people surveyed in a new Swedish poll.

The poll, the third of its kind taken by Uppsala University to measure Swedes’ views of diversity, shows a rising number of people supporting a headscarf ban.

In 2005, 43 percent wanted a ban on Islamic female head coverings. This year, 49.8 percent of the 1,065 people asked supported a ban.

The results the poll are open to some interpretation. The questionnaire asked people for their view on the banning of the ‘sloja’ or veil, indicating a garment covering the face as well as the top of the head, such as a burqa or a niqab. However, in common parlance, the word ‘sloja’ is often used to describe all sorts of female Islamic head coverings, including those that just cover the hair.

Hardening attitudes on the headscarf question were not the only sign of deteriorating race relations. More than one in three of those asked said they agreed with the statement that “many foreigners come to Sweden simply to take advantage of our social welfare.”

On a more positive note, 80 percent of people said they had good experiences of contact with people of foreign origins. According to the study’s authors only 5 percent have “extremely negative views” of immigrants – around the same percentage as last year, but higher than in 2005.

“There could be a link to how well the Sweden Democrats did in the last election – there are such tendencies in Sweden today,” said Dr. Irving Palm, one of those behind the survey, to Svenska Dagbladet.

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This post was last updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 10:26 PM, Central European Time (CET)