‘Sharp divides’ exist in Europe as new research shows large numbers of people hold ‘unfavorable views’ towards Muslims and Roma

‘Sharp divides’ exist in Europe as new research shows large numbers of people hold ‘unfavorable views’ towards Muslims and Roma

A new report has found a “wide divergence” across European countries when it comes to attitudes towards Muslim people. The report highlighted that “unfavorable opinions [of Muslim people] have actually decreased”. 

But it also discovered that there remain “sharp divides” in Europe towards Muslim and Roma minorities that correlates with support of populist parties. 


In work carried out by the Pew Research Center, it was found that “favorable views of Muslims exist in Western Europe, Russia and Ukraine”. It went on to point out that:

Solid majorities of people in the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden have positive opinions of Muslims in their country.

And what’s more, in some countries there has been a decline in “unfavorable views” of Muslim people. Hungary, for example, has seen a 14% decrease in such views with Italy also showing a 14% drop. 

“Sharp divides”

But the report goes on to point out that “sharp divides” still exist across Europe when it comes to attitudes towards Muslim people. Pew notes that:

majorities in Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Greece and Italy have unfavorable views of Muslims.

It also states that these negative views align with “support for populist parties”. For example:

supporters of AfD in Germany are 41 points more likely to have an unfavorable view of Muslims than nonsupporters. Similar divisions apply to supporters and nonsupporters of the Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) in the Czech Republic, PVV and FvD in the Netherlands, National Rally in France, Lega in Italy, Vox in Spain, UKIP in the UK and the ruling Fidesz in Hungary.

When it comes to supporters of left-wing parties the opposite was discovered, with views “more favorable toward Muslims” being shown by them.

A pattern

Data has also shown that Roma are viewed negatively in many of the countries surveyed. According to Pew, in 10 countries out of 16 examined at least half of those queried “have an unfavorable view of Roma”. Italy holds the largest amount of negative views towards them, “where roughly eight-in-ten (83%) say they have unfavorable views of Roma”. 

As with views on Muslim people, Pew found a correlation between support of right-wing parties and negative opinions of Roma. It wrote that:

those who express favorable views of right-wing populist parties in Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, France and Italy are significantly more likely to have a negative view of Roma than those who have unfavorable views of these parties. For example, in Germany, supporters of AfD are 19 percentage points more likely to have a negative opinion of Roma than are those who do not support AfD.

And it also discovered that those who support left-wing parties “tend to have more favorable opinions of Roma”. 

Featured image via Flickr – Markus Spiske

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