The Washington Post

What Europe thinks of Muslims, Jews and Roma

Ahead of the upcoming European Union parliamentary elections, the Pew Research Center released its latest survey data for France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

There are a number of interesting points in the report, but one striking section shows the varied views about minorities in the region. And while perspectives on Muslims and Jews are largely mixed, the mostly negative views about the Roma people are striking.

Here's a rundown:

Three countries polled – Italy, Greece and Poland – had more heavily negative views of Muslims than positive.

It should be noted that these three nations actually have fewer Muslims living there than Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. France, the country with the highest Muslim population, according to Pew, has the most favorable view, while the United Kingdom, home of a recent "halal pizza" scandal, has the least negative view.

Europe's attitudes toward Jews are more favorable, though Greeks are split.

Again, countries with a larger Jewish population, such as the U.K. and France, tend to view them more favorably, and Germany, which obviously has a unique history on this front, views its Jewish population least negatively. Greece, where just 0.04% of the population is Jewish, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, is the most split about Jews: It's also worth noting that the popular Greek right-wing party Golden Dawn has been accused of neo-Nazism.

The most negative views in Europe aren't directed toward Muslims or Jews. Rather, it's Roma.

This chart is really quite remarkable, showing that Spain is the only nation where more people hold positive views of Roma than negative. In Italy, just 10 percent have positive views about Roma, while 85 percent have negative views.

Unfortunately, it's not entirely surprising. Roma, often dismissively referred to as "gypsies" in Europe, have suffered discrimination in Europe for centuries, and some estimates suggest that 70 percent of their European population was killed during the Holocaust. Last year, Europe's tabloid media got into a frenzy over allegations that Roma families in Greece and Ireland had stolen "blond girls." (In both cases, it was later confirmed that the children were actually Roma).

Many are predicting a good showing for right-wing and nationalist groups in the elections, which begin May 22. If so, these charts may be worth remembering: As Pew notes, "negative sentiments about all three groups are consistently more common among people on the ideological right."

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.

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