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Finns would rather live near a rehab centre than a mosque, poll claims

Attitude survey finds that a Muslim prayer room is second only to a drug users’ needle exchange in terms of unpopular neighbourhood services, while support centres for alcoholics or mental health patients would be more warmly received.

Läntinen A-klinikka ja katkaisuhoitoasema kyltti.
Welcome neighbourhood addition? An A-Clinic Foundation alcoholism rehabilitation centre in Helsinki. Image: Yle

Finns would prefer to live near an alcohol rehabilitation centre than to a Muslim prayer room, a new poll claims.

A survey commissioned by Yle on so-called Nimbyism – which stands for “Not In My Back Yard” - asked 1,000 respondents which services they would be happy to see established in their neighbourhood.

43 percent said they would have no objection to a rehab facility for alcoholics being established close to where they live – compared to just 34 percent who said they would be happy living close to a mosque or Muslim prayer room.

Only a needle exchange for drug addicts proved a less popular local addition than a mosque, accepted by only 27 percent of respondents.

Tolerance debate

The findings come on the heels of a heated debate in Finland over the country’s acceptance of other faiths, following public comments by the Finns Party MP Olli Immonen calling for a “fight until the end” against multiculturalism.

The backlash against Immonen’s remarks led to tens of thousands of people in the capital and other towns taking to the streets in support of diversity in Finland. Then on Saturday 32 people were arrested in Jyväskylä when a demonstration by a white supremacist group turned violent.

Women more accepting

The Nimbyism poll, carried out by the organisation Taloustutkimus, claimed that homes for people with disabilities received the warmest response, with 76 percent of those questioned saying they would not mind if such an institution was set up in their neighbourhood.

Other services included in the poll were a reception centre for asylum seekers (accepted by 41 percent), a mental health support centre (accepted by 52 percent) and a support home for young people (accepted by 66 percent). Just over one in ten respondents said they would not accept any of the listed services being set up in their neighbourhood.

The poll found that women were broadly more tolerant than men, and that young people had more accepting attitudes than their older peers, with pensioners the least open to any of the options posed.

Respondents who described themselves as Finns Party or Centre Party voters were also the least likely to welcome any of the listed services into their neighbourhood. Meanwhile Green Party or Left Alliance supporters were the most accepting of any of the proposed neighbourhood additions.

The interviews were carried out between 21st and 29th of July.

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