Today I took a look at some numbers from my favourite data source right now (maybe a bit odd for a Canadian) – the most recent wave of the European Social Survey (ESS 2014).

I want to know more about what people think about Muslims in central and eastern Europe, and why. Fortunately there’s one question in the ESS that specifically asks people what they think of Muslims:



Only 44% of Czechs feel that a few, some or many Muslims should be allowed to come and live in their country – the lowest among all countries surveyed. I want to try and shed a bit more light on why this is the case and help us non-central/eastern-Europeans stop blaming these kinds of attitudes on some simplistic kind of eastern backwardness.

I’ve given minimal interpretation/commentary – yours are welcome.


Unsafe after dark

Czechs who feel unsafe after dark tend to be the least likely to want to allow Muslims to come and live in Czechia (yes, I’m finally calling it that).

For reference on the sizes of these groups: most Czechs felt safe (63.4%) or very safe (12.3%), while one-quarter felt unsafe (21.4% ‘unsafe’; 3.0% ‘very unsafe’)

Interestingly, a related question – whether you or a family member has been a victim of a theft or robbery in the last five years – showed no relationship at all.

Time to get to know your neighbours?

While Czechs who have at least some contact with a member of a different race or ethnic group tend to be pretty evenly split, Czechs who have the least contact with different races or ethnic groups tend to be much less likely to want to allow Muslims into the country.

‘Never’: 20.5% of all Czech respondents / ‘Less than once a month’: 16.0%

I touched on this in a post a few months ago on attitudes towards IDPs in Ukraine; the more contact people had with IDPs, the more positive their attitudes were towards them. The same goes for attitudes towards Muslims in the US and towards immigrants in general in the UK – familiarity really doesn’t breed contempt.

…and time to make some more friends?

People who had friends of different races and/or ethnic groups were more likely to be supportive of Muslims coming and living in Czechia compared to those who had none (no friends from a different race/ethnic group, not no friends at all [which the ESS does actually ask about]).

Most respondents (71.8%) weren’t friends with anyone from a different race/ethnic group (in fairness, not overly surprising in a country ~95% Czech). Still, 24.3% were friends with “a few” and 3.9% friends with “several.”

Again, this seems at least partly about familiarity not breeding contempt.

Immigants, I knew it was them!

Czechs who think the government treats new immigrants better than them are much more likely to feel no Muslims should be allowed to come and live in Czechia.


Overall numbers: 7.2% ‘much better,’ 27.0% ‘a little better,’ 52.6% ‘the same,’ 12.1% ‘a little worse’ and 1.2% ‘much worse’ (i.e., most Czechs don’t think immigrants get treated better – but a lot do)

Part 2 will come in a day or two with a look at some stats on political efficacy, (lack of) trust in governments and people and party affiliation.

Again, interpretations and such welcome.