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The Czechs: Xenophobic?

According to a March survey by the Public Opinion Research Centre of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences, more than half of Czechs feel there are too many foreigners living in the Czech Republic and nearly a fifth believe that the country should stop taking in refugees. It turns out that those who say the country is a home to too many foreigners are older and, surprisingly, also left-leaning individuals.

This is paradoxical, since ccording to Amnesty International's latest report, in 2005 out of 3,750 asylum seekers in the Czech Republic, only 219, that is 5.8 % of applicants, were granted asylum. Considering the world total number of asylum seekers and persons with official refugee status was 2,799,500, the argument that the Czech Republic should accept fewer refugees is ludicrous. This opinion is obviously not supported by statistics or reality.

As of December, 2008, the Czech Foreigner Police office informed that the number of foreigners living legally in the Czech Republic is 438,301. Of that number, 172,927 have a permanent status. Others are mainly holders of long-term temporary residency permits. In the Czech Republic, a country of nearly 10.5 million, foreigners make up 3.9 percent of the population.

It is true that the press has recently been giving some attention to the fact that the country's population increase -- as much as 90%, in fact -- can largely be attributed to immigration, but that's mostly because the birth rate has been so low for so many years. In fact, in 2004, it was reported that the Czech Republic has the second lowest birthrate in the world. Though the birthrate has begun to rise, ever-so-slightly, in 2007, the Czech Republic still had the second lowest birthrate in Europe after Slovenia.

The Czechs' institutional and social xenophobia has further been exasperated by the economic crisis and rising unemployment.

To read more, visit my blog, Czechs in America.

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