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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger? Swedes Remain Optimistic on Refugees

Despite the growing problems the migrant crisis has posed for their country, the majority of Swedes remain firm in their conviction that refugees make their country stronger.

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Over the last few years, the Swedish media have gone to great lengths to portray the immigration of asylum seekers as morally noble and economically beneficial for the economy. It is therefore hardly any surprise that Swedes, who traditionally have a deep-rooted sense of trust in their media, share this viewpoint. It is only natural that loyal Swedes topped the survey of European nation's attitude towards migrants, performed by pollster Pew Research Center.

A record 62 percent of Swedish respondents confirmed the widespread idea that refugees make their country stronger because of their work and talents, the highest of any nation surveyed.

Remarkably, Sweden also produced the highest number of respondents (36 percent) who advocate multiculturalism and regard an increasing number of people of different races, groups and nationalities as a positive factor, which makes their country a better place to live. Sweden, which has in recent years welcomed more immigrants per capita than any other European country, is striving to become "a humanitarian superpower," as the former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt put it.

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Germany, which last year took in over a million asylum-seekers, ranked second: there 59 percent of respondents believe refugees made the country stronger, whereas Greece and Hungary, other nations which were affected by the migrant crisis, were far more wary, with only nine percent believing that refugees improved the country.

When the migrant crisis was at its height last year, Sweden took in a record 163,000 asylum-seekers, mostly from the Middle East and northern Africa, which left the country struggling with the accommodation, adaptation and immersion of the newcomers. So far, excessive immigration and lack of a coherent strategy has led to the appearance of dozens of blighted ghetto-style areas, where Swedish law ceases to function and even paramedics fear for their personal safety.

Despite the seeming unison, other parts of the survey reflected the widening gap between the supporters and opponents of the ongoing immigration, which is believed to have led to a spike in violent crime, sexual violence and vandalism.

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Fittingly, 46 percent of Swedes argued that refugees were more to blame for crime than other groups, whereas 49 percent strongly opposed the notion. Additionally, 32 percent of Swedes conceded that refugees were a burden for the country's welfare system, as they allegedly took jobs and benefits away from the locals. Earlier this year, only 500 of the 163,000 asylum-seekers were revealed to have found a job.

Remarkably, Sweden also produced the highest number of respondents (45 percent) who argued that being born outside Sweden was no obstacle for one to become truly Swedish. As of 2008, 14 percent of the Swedish population was foreign-born. The figure is believed to have risen since then.

The Pew Center's survey was conducted between April 4 and May 12, 2016, and took the opinions of 11,494 respondents.

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