GeriGündem Unneighborliness in neighborhoods
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Unneighborliness in neighborhoods

Unneighborliness in neighborhoods
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ISTANBUL - By asking citizens in various cities who they would prefer to have living next door, a new survey reveals that Turks bear high levels of intolerance toward diversity, with atheists and gays among the least wanted neighbors. Turks give more negative answers than the European average, says Yılmaz Esmer of Bahçeşehir University.

Tolerance levels within the Turkish population toward different groups, styles of living and ideologies are considerably low, according to survey results released over the weekend.

Three of four people in Turkey said they do not want a neighbor who drinks alcohol, while the same percentage said they do not want neighbors who do not believe in God. Sixty-six percent said they do not want a Jewish neighbor, while 52 percent said they do not want to live next to a Christian.

The results of the survey, conducted by Istanbul’s Bahçeşehir University, are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,714 people in 34 cities, including Gaziantep, Hatay, Kayseri, Samsun, Sivas, Tokat and Van. The three weeks of fieldwork ended one month ago.

The number of Turks who said they believe that ethnic or religious diversity adds to life’s richness was only slightly higher than those who said they believe ethnic or religious diversity harms the country’s unity.One of the criteria for measuring tolerance levels in international surveys is to ask a question about what kinds of neighbors are preferred, said Prof. Yılmaz Esmer, who headed the team that conducted the survey. In this respect, the negative answers were higher than the European average, Esmer told journalists and academics Friday night. His team’s research showed gays are the most unwanted members of society, with 87 percent of respondents saying they do not want a gay neighbor, among the highest figures in Europe.

Twenty-six percent of Turks said they do not want a neighbor of a different race or color, while 43 percent said they do not want American neighbors. The figure for those who said they do not want neighbors who do not follow any religion was 66 percent, while 75 percent said they do not want neighbors who do not believe in God. Thirty-six percent said they do not want neighbors whose daughters wear shorts, while 67 percent said they do not want neighbors who are living together outside of wedlock.

In contrast, 14 percent said they do not want a neighbor who wears a veil and 33 percent said they do not want one who wears a black chador.

The survey was conducted among people 15 years of age and older. One of the most striking findings of the survey was that the young are the most intolerant group as far the "wanted neighbor" criteria was concerned, with the highest level of intolerance demonstrated among those aged 15 to 18. The survey also focused on issues of discrimination and pressure, with 18 percent reporting that they feel like a member of a group that is being discriminated against, for whatever reason. Eight percent of respondents said they have been subject to discrimination by the state because of their mother tongue, 9 percent because they belong to a different ethnic group and 9 percent because of their religion. Six percent said they had been discriminated against by the state because of their secular ideas.
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