Prejudices run deep among ethnic groups

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The Independent Online
Large numbers of Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and Jewish people in Britain hold racist views about each other, according to a report published yesterday which challenges the belief that most prejudices are held by whites.

Authors of the survey described the findings as threatening to open up "a Pandora's box" on the race issue.

The study of more than 1,700 people also suggests that Asians, blacks, and Jews are more prejudiced about inter- racial marriages than whites. Almost all white citizens believe that the British are prejudiced. In addition, white people were found to be anxious about their British identity, losing their "culture" and jobs.

But the surprise finding of the Institute for Public Policy Research study is the apparent widespread prejudices held by non-whites in Britain.

Evidence was found of inter-ethnic racism particularly between black and Asian people, and a belief by the Asian and Jewish community that Afro-Caribbeans were harming improvements made in race relations.

In a rare piece of research on British racial prejudices the National Opinion Poll organisation questioned 933 whites, 282 Asians, 252 Afro- Caribbeans and 252 Jews during October and November last year.

On the question of inter-racial marriages almost half the Jews questioned said they would mind if one of their close relatives married an Afro-Caribbean, compared with 46 per cent of Asians and 24 per cent of whites.

Jews were also strongly opposed to close relatives marrying Asians, with 47 per cent saying they would mind, compared with 28 per cent of whites and 18 per cent of blacks.

Marriage to Jews was opposed by 40 per cent of Asians, 19 per cent of Afro-Caribbeans, and 15 per cent of whites. Some of the opposition was believed to be due to religious differences.

Asians, followed by Afro-Caribbeans, were most likely to think that the majority of refugees claiming asylum were bogus. Asians were also more likely to think that there were too many Africans and Asians immigrating to Britain.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a research fellow at the IPPR, said: "[It is a] complex picture and it will not do us any good to deny inter-ethnic problems and white anxiety."

She added: "I hope we don't have the US condition where you have an awful backlash from whites [against the] ethnic community, but also between the different ethnic groups.

"We were worried that we were opening up a Pandora's box with these surveys."

In more detailed group discussions researchers found people divided into four ideological groups. The "die hards", who were openly racist and tend to be white working class.

The "I'm not racist but ...", who were racist but do not admit it. They were often middle class, white females and first-generation Asians, who said things such as: "I don't care what colour someone's skin is, but they can't come over here and get more than we do."

The "comfortable liberals", who were usually hand-wringing, white educated professionals with strong anti-racist views.

The fourth group comprised the "young optimists" who tended to be young and included more Asians and blacks, mixed with other ethnic groups and felt racism was wrong. A typical comment among this group was: "How can you judge everyone just by the colour they are?"

Other findings from the institute's research included the view that immigration was not an important issue among the vast majority of the public.

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