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Friday, July 3, 1998 Published at 00:00 GMT 01:00 UK

World: Europe

France tops Euro racism poll

Jean-Marie Le Pen's French National Front Party has widespread support

A series of surveys carried out for official French organisations suggest that France is the most xenophobic of major European countries.

One survey found that 38% of French people described themselves as racist; among European Union countries only Belgium at 45% had a higher figure.

Some 23% of Germans 13% of Spaniards and 22% of those questioned in Britain had similar views.

In another poll, 40% said they were attracted by the policies of the National Front, whose leader, Jean Marie Le Pen campaigns on an anti-immigrant platform.

Wide support

The BBC correspondent in Paris says that although the extreme right-wing National Front normally attracts about 15% of the vote nation-wide, its views command far wider support.

The surveys (published in the Paris newspaper, Le Monde) found that racism was most common among farmers, shopkeepers and tradesman, and least prevalent among young people and the better-off.

But our correspondent says such findings need to be interpreted with care. Amongst young French in particular there is strong support for integration and an acceptance of the contribution - economic and cultural - immigrants make to the country.

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