Migrants split Greeks

Most Greeks do not want any more migrants living in the country even though they do not regard them as a nuisance, according to the results of a poll made public yesterday at a conference which blamed the media for scapegoating immigrants in Greece. The VPRC poll, whose results were presented at a conference in Athens, showed Greeks to be divided over the presence of migrants, with 88 percent claiming not to have a problem with migrants and the same percentage saying Greece should not give residence permits to any more foreigners. More than half (54 percent) of those polled said they thought immigrants had boosted the Greek economy while 56 percent blamed them for a rise in unemployment. And while 65 percent regard migrants as responsible for rising crime rates, 67 percent have no problem living and working alongside them. A majority (83 percent) objected to the presence of immigrant children in Greek schools. Meanwhile, 68 percent declared that migrants do not pose a risk to Orthodoxy but 52 percent do not want a mosque in Athens. As regards the rights of migrants, 62 percent of respondents said they should be allowed to vote while only 47 percent believe they should have the right to run as political candidates. According to speakers at yesterday’s conference, negative opinions about immigrants are fueled by television, which often uses migrants as scapegoats for economic problems and crime. «The media tackles the issues of immigrants in a very superficial way instead of acting as a channel of communication,» the president of the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO), Alexandros Zavos, said. «The words and images used indiscriminately label (immigrants),» according to Yiannis Panousis, the director of Athens University’s media department. The president of the Greek Migrants’ Forum, Ahmet Moavia, called for support for media organizations being run by immigrants. «There are 28 newspapers in 11 languages which inform some 50,000 migrants,» Moavia said. The forum criticized the fact that the issuing of migrants’ residence permits is dependent on them proving a certain level of social security contributions. Proof of contributions should not be only the migrant’s responsibility but also that of the state and the employer, the forum said.

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