Immigration’s image gets a boost

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Norwegians have become more positive towards immigration since July 22, when a right-wing Norwegian extremist unleashed terrorist attacks aimed at stopping it. New research suggests his murderous rampage seems to have had the opposite effect.

The research, conducted by state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway), shows major increases in positive response to issues involving immigration. The number of people agreeing, for example, with a statement that “most immigrants make a useful contribution to the Norwegian workforce” rose from 73 percent before July 22 to 85 percent after July 22. Another statement that “most immigrants enrich cultural life in Norway” secured agreement from 82 percent of those questioned after July 22, compared to 72 percent before July 22.

‘So much more positive’
“The general attitudes towards immigrants became so much more positive after July 22, that we believe our findings are correct,” Svein Blom, the researcher in charge of the annual monitoring of immigration attitudes for SSB, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “The population became more positive towards immigrants after the terrorist attacks of July 22.”

Blom said that the amount of Norwegians disagreeing with a statement that immigrants abuse state welfare programs also increased. The biggest change, however, was reflected in the response to a statement that “most immigrants are a source of insecurity in society.” Before July 22, 48 percent disagreed. After July 22, 70 percent disagreed.

Long-term effect unclear
Blom said the opinions were gathered between the Monday after the attacks that killed 77 persons, July 25, and mid-August. He noted it was a time of intensely negative reaction to the Norwegian terrorist’s actions and “we don’t know if it will have a long-term effect.”

He said, though, that the amount of Norwegians agreeing that immigrants should have the same job opportunities as natives was stable, at 90 percent. Fully 70 percent agreed that labour immigration from countries outside the Nordic area contribute in a mostly positive manner to the Norwegian economy.

Those questioned were evenly split on whether Norway should accept more asylum seekers. “Forty-four percent think it should be more difficult to gain resident status, while 45 percent think current rules should be maintained,” Blom told DN. “Only 6 percent think it should be easier.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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