Nearly 60 percent of secondary school students in Iceland (ages 16 to 20) who participated in a new opinion poll by the Icelandic Center for Social Research and Analysis, say there are too many immigrants in the country.
About 12,000 secondary school students participated in the poll, which was undertaken in October last year, and the results were presented yesterday, Morgunbladid reports.
Close to 60 percent of these students said they either strongly agree or agree with the following statement: “I believe that too many immigrants are living in Iceland.”
This is a vast increase from 2000, when 39.3 percent of secondary school students said they agreed with the same statement.
In the 2007 poll, 40 percent of boys and 27.3 percent of girls in secondary schools said they strongly agreed with the statement, whereas 27.4 percent of boys and 12.1 percent of girls gave that answer in 2000.
Last year, 40.4 percent of participants said they were either in complete or partial disagreement with the statement that the culture immigrants in Iceland represented had a positive influence on the Icelandic society; an increase from 30.5 percent in 2000.
“This is very worrying,” said Einar Skúlason, managing director of Ahús, the Intercultural Center in Reykjavík. “I believe the youngsters are calling for further discussion about these issues. We need people going into the schools to encourage discussions and give the students a chance to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions so that they can receive answers.”
Ásgeir Gudmundsson, managing director of the Association of Icelandic Secondary School Students, agrees that more information is needed, but stated the results of the poll are not as serious as they may seem.
Gudmundsson said the use of the word nýbúi (“immigrant”) contributed to worse results than in 2000, because since then it has acquired a more negative meaning.